More monetary awards expected for NSmen

SINGAPORE — National Servicemen could get higher sums under changes proposed to the National Service Recognition Award (NSRA).

The Committee to Strengthen National Service (CSNS) has recommended disbursing S$2,000 extra, in Medisave grants, at each of the three “milestones” an NSmen reaches, under a proposed NS HOME (Housing, Medical and Education) Awards that will replace the NSRA.

Currently, the NSRA pays S$3,000 each, when one completes NS, is at the mid-point of the Operationally-Ready NS Training Cycle, and upon completion of his full-time NS obligations. With the exception of the first payout, which goes into an NSman’s Post-Secondary Education Account, the other two disbursements are split among the Ordinary, Medisave and Special accounts.

Under the proposed new award, the existing S$3,000 at each stage will only go into the Ordinary Account for the second and third payout, while the extra S$2,000 will go into the Medisave Account.

This is one of 30 recommendations the CSNS has submitted for the Government’s consideration today (May 22). The timeline for the various proposed changes to kick in depends on when they get accepted by the Government.

The recommendations were made after an extensive public consultation exercise lasting about a year. It engaged more than 40,000 people who are stakeholders of National Service (NS). Apart from NSmen, employers, new citizens, women and pre-enlistees were also consulted.

Among the other proposals, NSmen who fail their Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) will have a longer period to complete their 20 remedial training (RT) sessions — increased from the current three months to one year.

The Committee also proposed increasing the incentives by S$100 for achieving an IPPT pass with incentive, silver or gold to S$200, S$300 and S$500 respectively.

Separately, the committee proposed the hiring of 1,100 more regulars for the Singapore Armed Forces and 230 for the Singapore Police Force and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), with an aim to improve training and inculcate values more effectively.

Raising the proportion of officers and specialists from 30 to 40 per cent was also recommended to increase leadership opportunities for for full-time National Servicemen. Skills picked up by full-time National Servicemen (NSFs) could also be accredited to highlight their competencies and skills gained during NS, the CSNS said.

The CSNS’ recommendations also revealed more details of the proposed SAF Volunteer Corps. In their proposal, women, new citizens and first-generation Permanent Residents (PRs) who volunteer in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) could be given a four-week training course, followed by one to two weeks of annual commitment for a minimum of three years.

The enlistment wait-time for pre-enlistees could also be shortened to four to six months after completion of post-secondary education. The authorities are also looking to work with tertiary institutions to reduce transition time after NS, said the Committee.

The Committee, comprising several ministers, top military brass, is chaired by Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen.

The recommendations aim to create more opportunities for NSmen to contribute to national defence, establish a Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Volunteer Corps, and strengthen recognition and benefits for NSmen.

It also strives to expand community support for servicemen, and create a positive NS experience through the easing of administrative restrictions, and strengthen the NS training system.

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