Simply refer to Page 1 of http://sgforums.com/forums/1390/topics/395004
As simple as ABC.
A Piece of Cake.
Credit Counselling Singapore (CCS)
Call 6225 5227 (9am to 6pm from Mondays to Friday).
- To promote a better informed and responsible borrowing society through better credit management skills and knowledge
- To assist debt distressed individuals with credit counselling and facilitating debt restructuring with their creditors
Very often, consumer who has a debt problem feels very alone. He tends to keep the debt problem to himself, not wanting anyone to know because he is likely to feel ashamed, silly, guilty, loss of pride or worry about losing his job. As a result, the debt problem grows bigger, the stress level becomes higher, work performance is affected, relationships turn tense and subsequently, the individual may become depressed and suicidal thought may began to arise.
CCS is a non-government-link organisation and a registered charity. Unlike other debt advisors, CCS is not driven by profit. CCS has been helping people with an unsecured consumer debt problem in Singapore through education and debt repayment plan since 2004.Edited by eac 04 Sep `15, 10:40AM
Please write in email [email protected] in black and white to a customer service officer to liaise with your NS unit's S1 Manpower Branch.
Attention the email to S1 Manpower Officer, Deputy S1 Officer and Chief Clerk.
Explicitly emphasise your non-combat-fit status, no longer do IPPT anymore, that you're only fit for light duties, that is Att B status. Therefore, be firm to state that you're willing to clock this ICT count, but only help out within HQ coy/ coy line.
Revocation/ Post Out matters are none of medical centre business. Medical centre can only recommends a revocation/ post out. Please note that all actual manpower matters are all handled by the NS unit's S1 Manpower Branch. Therefore, please go to check with S1 Manpower Officer/ DyS1 Officer/ Chief Clerk.
As mentioned above, for all revocation/ post out matters, please check directly with the S1 Manpower Branch for all manpower issues.Edited by eac 02 Sep `15, 11:14PM
Please call the 24/7 NS hotline @1800-3676767 or email [email protected] to a customer service officer to liaise with your NS unit.
- Explicitly emphasise your PES with permanent RMJ.
- PES C2 and below permanently are not required to do IPPT anymore, as in no longer combat-fit to take IPPT.
- Then query the NS unit how will a rifleman do his vocation efficiently and effectively without RMJ in a field environment?
- State clearly and strongly that since you're already a non-combat-fit NSman, you're willing to clock this ICT, but only to help out within HQ coy/ coy line to assist light duties, but not as a rifleman.
- Thereafter when in ICT, readily keep in wallet to just show your PES medical certificate to those in doubt. Then tell them if they're willing to sign an official piece of paper in black and white, "If anything happen to me under your instruction/ command, are you going to take full responsibility to me, my family and the higher echelons of the SAF?"Edited by eac 02 Sep `15, 11:23PM
Singaporeans in distress overseas can seek consular assistance during and after regular office hours. However, please note that the nearest Singapore Mission at your destination may not necessarily be accredited to the country you are in. If there is no Singapore Mission nearby, you may wish to call the MFA Duty Officer in Singapore at (65) 6379-8800.
Singaporeans who require consular assistance may call the following telephone numbers.
For general enquiries during office hours:
- MFA One Call Centre toll-free at 1800 476 8870 (In Singapore)
- MFA Main Line (operator) at (65) 6379 8000 (From overseas)
- Alternatively, you may wish to e-mail us at [email protected].
For urgent consular assistance (e.g. for cases of overseas arrest, repatriation, illness, accidents, natural disasters, etc):
- MFA Duty Office at (65) 6379 8800 / 8855
Please note that the MFA Duty Office is closed daily from 12 midnight to 7.00am (Singapore time). During this period, overseas emergency cases will be attended to by a Duty Officer.
For non-emergency consular matters, please call during our office hours from 7.00am to 12 midnight (Singapore time).Edited by eac 01 Sep `15, 11:16AM
"Ten year series (TYS)" is a colloquial term used by Singaporeans, in particular students, to refer to official compilation books of examination papers in past years for the General Certificate of Education (GCE) Normal Level (N-level), Ordinary Level (O-level) and Advanced Level (A-level), approved by the Ministry of Education and University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES).
In Singapore schools, these books are known to be used extensively by teachers and students both inside and outside the classrooms, in preparation for similar questions that may be asked in future examinations. Most students review these past examination papers in order to seek to reveal applications of concepts as well as encounter the forms of various new concepts which would be covered in examinations but not explicitly in the syllabus.
Until 2007 the term is not always truly literal since some of these books have compilations containing papers from more than two decades worth of examinations, which means that students will thus often be doing practice papers that are set even before they were born. The Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB) has since implemented a new rule limited the publication of papers to the past ten years, which resulting in a spike of demand for older ten-year series. Ten-year series should not be confused with assessment books (books containing questions on specific subjects for students to practise), which serve as an additional practice, or as a form of enrichment. The latter are privately authored and sold in bookstores.
Taking Learning into our Careers
C.16. The next stage concerns what happens after we graduate from school and tertiary education. We will invest continually in Singaporeans, throughout their careers.
C.17. We will create a SkillsFuture Credit for all Singaporeans. NTUC and several Members of Parliament have previously suggested a scheme of this nature.
C.18. Each Singaporean 25 years old and above will receive an initial credit of $500 from 2016. We will make further top-ups to their SkillsFuture Credit at regular intervals. These credits will not expire, but can only be used for education and training.
C.19. We have decided to spread out the top-ups over the course of a person’s life for two reasons.
a. First, there is no need for anyone to rush to use their credit. While some may use their initial $500 immediately for a short programme, others may want to accumulate credits to engage in more substantial training later in their career.
b. Second, we need time to develop quality offerings in our SkillsFuture landscape that are relevant to jobs and individuals’ future careers. We must go for quality training which will open up career possibilities for individuals, and that employers find relevant.
C.20. The SkillsFuture Credit can be used for a broad range of courses supported by government agencies. These will include courses offered by our Institutes of Higher Learning and accredited education and training providers, as well as a range of courses that are funded by the WDA.
C.21. To complement this, every Singaporean will be given an online Individual Learning Portfolio – a one-stop education, training, and career guidance resource to help them plan their learning starting from their time in secondary school.
SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme
C.22. To cater to fresh graduates from our Polytechnics and ITE, we will launch a SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme in 2015. It will give them a head start in their careers.
C.23. The graduates will be matched with suitable employers. They will start working and undergo structured on-the-job training and mentorship, while they study for an industry-recognised qualification.
C.24. Both trainees and employers who sign up for this programme will receive substantial support from the Government. This will be done in a phased way, eventually covering up to one in three polytechnic and ITE graduates.
Enhanced Subsidies for Mid-Career Singaporeans
C.25. We will enhance subsidies for mid-career Singaporeans.
C.26. First, education and training subsidies for all Singaporeans aged 40 and above will be enhanced to a minimum of 90% of training costs for courses funded by MOE and WDA.
C.27. This additional support from the Government recognises the opportunity costs that mid-career Singaporeans face when they go for education and training.
C.28. These subsidies are significant:
a. For a part-time undergraduate course such as a Bachelor of Engineering, which is already subsidised, the total fees payable by a student will be reduced by 60%, from about $17,000 to $6,800.
C.29. Second, Singaporeans will now be able to enjoy multiple subsidies from MOE for modular courses – at all levels, and regardless of age. This flexibility of modular, continuous learning will help individuals, who will often have to balance family and career together with their learning. Many individuals may prefer to go for several bites of short courses, rather than to go for a long course.
C.30. We will implement these enhanced subsidies later in the year.
Targeted Support for Career Progression
C.31. Beyond the SkillsFuture Credit and these broad-based subsidies, we will provide special support for Singaporeans seeking to develop deep skills in particular fields.
C.32. First, we will introduce SkillsFuture Study Awards. They will support individuals who wish to develop the specialist skills required for our future growth clusters. For example, they may include software developers, satellite engineers or master craftsmen. The awards can also support those who already have deep specialist skills and wish to develop other competencies such as business and cross-cultural skills. At this stage, we are not setting a cap on the number of awards, but it should eventually be about 2,000 study awards per year. We will introduce the SkillsFuture Study Awards in phases, starting this year.
C.33. Second, we will introduce SkillsFuture Fellowships, to develop Singaporeans to achieve mastery in their respective fields. We will award about 100 fellowships a year, which can be used for a range of education and training options, in both craft-based and knowledge-based areas. It will be funded from the SkillsFuture Jubilee Fund, which will be financed by voluntary contributions from employers, unions, the public and the Government. This broad-based involvement signifies everyone being a stakeholder. The SkillsFuture Fellowships will be introduced from 2016.
C.34. The SkillsFuture Study Awards and Fellowships will be mainly used to develop deep skills and mastery in the growth clusters of the future. But we will be open to those who want to develop themselves in fields that they are really passionate about, that may not be in these growth clusters. Take individuals like Edwin Neo, for example. He was trained in interior design, but developed a passion for making high quality European-style shoes. He went to train under a master shoemaker in Budapest and came back to found his own company. He is doing well, selling both ready-to-wear shoes and upmarket bespoke creations.
C.35. Finally, we will work with companies to grow Singaporean corporate leaders under the SkillsFuture Leadership Development Initiative. This initiative will provide support for companies who commit to developing a pipeline of Singaporeans to take on corporate leadership roles and responsibilities in the future. This too is important.
Enhancing Continuing Education and Training (CET)
CET is increasingly important, given our rapidly changing economic and industry needs.
Our polytechnics and ITE are quality providers for CET through the provision of subsidised part-time NITEC/Higher NITEC, part-time diploma and Advanced Diplomas/Specialist Diplomas programmes.
To strengthen support for professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) to upgrade themselves, MOE will enhance subsidies for CET programmes, and expand the number of CET places in Part-time Diploma, Advanced Diploma and Specialist Diploma programmes at the polytechnics by 60%, from 6,400 to 10,100 places, by 2015.
In addition, we will work with the polytechnics and ITE to make their CET courses more compact and modular, so as to provide greater flexibility for adult learners to customise their pace of learning. The high quality standards that our institutions are known for will be maintained.
To find out more about the Ministry of Education and our initiatives, please visit our website.
The CET Qualification Award (CQA) aims to encourage workers to attain full qualifications that will equip them with a more comprehensive skills set. This will be especially beneficial for those who may have missed out on formal qualifications, those seeking a career change or those for which a formal qualification is beneficial to their career progression or job search.
Singapore Citizens who successfully complete and are awarded a subsidised part-time Diploma at the Polytechnics or a WSQ Diploma/Specialist Diploma are eligible for a CET Qualification Award (CQA) of $1,000.
Singapore Citizens who successfully complete and are awarded a WSQ Certificate/Higher Certificate/Advanced Certificate or a part-time NITEC/Higher NITEC are also eligible for a CET Qualification Award (CQA) of $200.
To download a brochure on the CET Qualification Award (CQA), please click here.
A Singapore Citizen is eligible for the CET Qualification Award (CQA) on his first attainment of a WSQ full qualification from 1 March 2011. The award will be computed separately for WSQ full qualifications and part-time NITEC/Higher NITEC/Polytechnic CET Diplomas.
For WSQ Qualification Holders:
If you have already obtained a WSQ full qualification before 1 March 2011, you will not be eligible for the award even if you have obtained a WSQ full qualification after 1 March 2011 at the same level. However, if the subsequent WSQ full qualification (e.g. WSQ Diploma) is at a different level from the first WSQ full qualification (e.g. WSQ Advanced Certificate), you will be eligible for the CET Qualification Award (CQA).
For example, if you had obtained a WSQ Certificate prior to 1 March 2011 and subsequently complete a WSQ Advanced Certificate after 1 March 2011, you will not be eligible for the CET Qualification Award (CQA). However, you will be eligible for the award if you complete a WSQ Diploma for the first time after 1 March 2011 ($1,000). The award for WSQ qualification shall be given regardless of whether you hold an existing Polytechnic CET Diploma or ITE NITEC/Higher NITEC qualification.
For Part-Time Polytechnic CET Diplomas and ITE NITEC/Higher NITEC Holders:
If you had already obtained a full qualification before 1 March 2011, you will not be eligible for the award even if you obtain a full qualification after 1 Mar 2011 at the same or lower level. However, if the subsequent qualification is at a higher level from the first, based on MOE's policy, you will be eligible for the CET Qualification Award (CQA).
For example, if you had obtained a part-time Diploma from a Polytechnic prior to 1 March 2011 and subsequently complete a NITEC after 1 March 2011, based on MOE's policy, you will not be eligible for the CET Qualification Award (CQA).
To find out more on the CET Qualification Award (CQA), please click hereEdited by eac 22 Aug `15, 10:22PM
"In our next wave of development, we will build a first-rate system of continuing education and training: learning throughout life.
It will intertwine education and the world of work in ways that strengthen and enrich both.
It will make the workplace a major site of learning. It will enable every Singaporean to maximise his or her potential, from young and through life. It will build an advanced economy and ensure us of a fair society."
– Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Finance and Chairman of the SkillsFuture Council
SkillsFuture is a national movement to provide Singaporeans with the opportunities to develop their fullest potential throughout life, regardless of their starting points. Through this movement, the skills, passion and contributions of every individual will drive Singapore's next phase of development towards an advanced economy and inclusive society.
No matter where you are in life – schooling years, early career, mid-career or silver years – you will find a variety of resources to help you attain mastery of skills. Skills mastery is more than having the right paper qualifications and being good at what you do currently; it is a mindset of continually striving towards greater excellence through knowledge, application and experience. With the help of the SkillsFuture Council, education and training providers, employers, unions – you can own a better future with skills mastery and lifelong learning. Your skills. Your asset. Your future.
Everyone is part of Singapore's SkillsFuture journey. The choices you make or guide others to make in education, jobs or careers should lead to opportunities to maximise one's potential and develop a mastery of skills. To meet challenges and achieve success, chart your own paths through lifelong learning and skills mastery. Every Singaporean, every job, at every stage of life, counts.Edited by eac 22 Aug `15, 5:09PM
Welcome to Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS)
The Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) is a scheme by the Ministry of Health (MOH) that provides accessible and affordable medical and dental care to Singapore Citizens.
Singapore Citizens of all ages are eligible for CHAS if they meet the following criteria:
• Household monthly income per person of $1,800 and below; OR
• Annual Value (AV) of residence as reflected on NRIC of $21,000 and below for households with no income
Family members (related by blood, marriage and/or legal adoption) living at the same address, as reflected on their NRICs, will need to apply together on one application form. All the family members’ income will contribute towards the household monthly income per person.Members of the public who are on Public Assistance (PA) scheme do not need to apply as they are already eligible for CHAS.
Household monthly income per person is calculated by taking the total household monthly income divided by the total number of family members living together.
You can pick up a CHAS application form at any Public Hospital, Polyclinic, Community Centre and Club (CC) or Community Development Council (CDC). Alternatively, you can download the application form here. Only one application form is required for each household.
Please send the completed and signed application form to P.O. Box 680, Bukit Merah Central Post Office, Singapore 911536, with clear copies of the passports or visit passes for family members who are foreigners.
Submission of NRIC and birth certificate photocopies for Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents are no longer required. If you have any family members who are foreigners, we would still require photocopies of their visit pass or passport for verification purpose. You can continue to use the existing form marked "Jan 2014" for your application. The new application forms marked "Apr 2014" reflecting this change in requirement will be available at a later date.
Further details @ www.chas.sg
Collection Point for NSmen's Personal Equipment (PE)
NSmen who have reached their statutory age to be officially discharged from NS obligations i.e. 50 years old for officers and 40 years old for Warrant Officers & below and do not require their PE items, may return their PE at the following designated collection points:
a. Army Logistics Base (ALB)
601 Choa Chu Kang Rd
Tel: 6389 6380 / 6389 6381
b. SAF eMarts:
Army Zonal SAF Emarts
• Clementi Camp
• Jurong Camp
• Khatib Camp
• Maju Camp
• Nee Soon Camp
• Pulau Tekong Camp
• Selarang Camp
• Stagmont Camp
• Sungei Gedong Camp
• Tanjong Gul Camp
Flexi SAF Emarts
• Amoy Quee Camp
• Ayer Raja Camp
• Bedok Camp
• Bukit Panjang Camp
• Hendon Camp
• Keat Hong Camp
• Kranji Camp - ALTI
• Kranji Camp II
• Lim Chu Kang Camp
• Mandai Hill Camp
• Pasir Laba Camp
• Pasir Ris Camp
• Seletar Camp
• Sembawang Camp
*NOTE: All Flexi eMarts do not operate at fixed hour. before patronising the emarts, please call: 6389 6231 (Mon - Fri, 8am to 5.30pm).
MINDEF Reserve (MR)
MINDEF Reserve consists of NSmen who have completed their NS training cycle but have yet to reach the statutory age. They are no longer called back for In-Camp Training (ICT) but are still liable for NS.
What happens after I completed my NS Training Cycle?
The minimum requirement for completion of NS Training Cycle is 7 HK and 10 ORNS years (8 HK and 13 ORNS years for Key Appointment Holders). However, you may be asked to continue your service as a Reservist On Voluntary Extended Reserve Service (ROVERS) to ensure fulfillment of operational requirements. Some ROVERS may even continue to serve beyond the statutory age of 50 and 40 for Officers and WOSE respectively as VOLUNTEERS in higher operational appointments.
Once you have completed your NS training cycle and/or standdown as ROVERS/VOUNTEER, you will be posted to the MINDEF Reserve (MR) List at the end of the work year. However, you may still be activated during operational exigencies and remain liable for NS up to the respective statutory ages.
Note that you are to disregard your previous unit’s mobilisation codewords as you are no longer required to report for mobilisation activation for your previous units. A new codeword will be assigned to you accordingly should you be mobilised while you are in MR. If you are travelling overseas for 6 months or more, you are still required to apply for Exit Permit.
1. What is meant by no longer liable for National Service?
Under the Enlistment Act, Chapter 93, NSmen will not be liable for NS call-ups when they reach the statutory age limit of 40 for Warrant Officers, Specialists and Enlistees (WOSEs) and 50 for Officers. In other words, personnel reaching the stated statutory age limit will no longer be liable to be called up for any NS activities such as ICT, IPPT, mobilisation etc.
2. What should I do to my SAF personal equipment now that I have completed my NS liability?
You may dispose the items in the normal ways as long as the items do not end up in an unauthorised usage.
Source: www.mindef.gov.sg/nsmenSilent Mobilisation System
i. Primary Means:
The eMobilisation system will notify you via the telephone (home, office or mobile) or facsimile. It is therefore crucial that your personal details, especially your contact numbers are updated through eSelf-Update in the NS Portal (www.ns.sg).
ii. Back-up Means – Personal Contact:
A Mobilisation Order (SAF 98A/B) or Mobilisation Notice (SAF 98C/D) will be served to your home if you cannot be contacted through the primary means.
iii. The SAF 98A/B are used only during actual operations, while the SAF 98C/D are used for practices.
Open Mobilisation System
The mass media such as the television, radio, Omni-theatres and cinemas are used to inform you that your unit has been mobilised. Upon announcement of the Code words, you are required to report immediately to your Mobilisation Centre for military service/exercises in your uniform with your personal equipment.
NSmen are required to apply for an Exit Permit for overseas trips of 6 months or longer. NSmen who go overseas for more than 14 days but less than 6 months must notify MINDEF of their overseas trips through the MINDEF Notification Centre (MNC). The possession of an Exit Permit or the notification or the notification of MINDEF Notification Centre does not absolve NSmen from mobilisation and to report for NS duties when required.
During mobilisation manning period, NSmen can still travel overseas but are required to seek approval from their unit to be exempted from mobilisation prior to departure. Failing which, disciplinary actions will be taken.
(C) Mobilisation Manning
Before you ORD or your first operational manning, your unit will brief you on the following:
- Your unit code words. Stickers with your code
words will be given to help you and your family members remember
the code words.
- Mobilisation Centre location to report during
- Mobilisation Means. This could be through
telephone, SMS, fax, email or written notices and
- Frequency of Operational Manning. Manning
occurs about twice a work year during which you are liable for
- Special arrangements. If you are performing
emergency service, or your immediate absence from your work place
may be critical or hazardous to life, you need to inform your NS
unit and report as soon as your functions are satisfactorily handed
During mobilisation exercise, your NS unit may be required to move out for field exercises after the normal reporting is done. Being mindful of your varying commitments, the SAF will make every effort to minimise disruption to your civilian careers when mobilisation exercises are held.
How can my family support my mobilisation?
You are encouraged to keep your family members informed of your whereabouts especially during your Operational Manning Periods. They should also be informed of how and where they can contact you to facilitate your speedy mobilisation.
Your family members should also know your NS unit's code words and be prepared that you are required to remain at the unit for a longer period if the mobilisation should involves field exercises.
If you have any family members that are 16 years of age or above, they can acknowledge any call-up notice serve at your residence. Upon receipt, they must contact you immediately.
- Your unit code words. Stickers with your code words will be given to help you and your family members remember the code words.
Because NS life is different from civilian life before enlistment, there are many adjustments you need to make.
A good way to cope is to get support from your buddy and fellow recruits. They are going through the same tough training as you, so talking to one another will help relieve some tension.
In most evenings during your leisure time, you’ll also have some time to call your family or loved ones to talk. They can give you emotional support during NS.
You can have a one-on-one interview sessions with your officer to highlight any problems you may have. If you have a personal or family problem that need to be addressed, do let the officer know—he may be able to give you some advice or time off to settle your problems.
You will also have access to Orientation Officers who may be able to help you if the need arises.Edited by eac 17 Aug `15, 9:00AM
You will also have access to Orientation Officers who may be able to help you if the need arises.
1. Please check current PES and its expiry with the counter medic at the medical centre. The medic can readily see your PES on the computer just with your NRIC number. Simple. Then kindly request ask medic to print it out to show S1 Manpower Branch, Coy Office and to whom it may concern.
2. Revocation/ Post Out matters are none of medical centre business. Medical centre can only recommends a revocation/ post out. Please note that all actual manpower matters are all handled by the NS unit's S1 Manpower Branch. Therefore, please go to check with S1 Manpower Officer/ DyS1 Officer/ Chief Clerk.
3. Temporary PES downgrade is to let the person to rest, recover and recuperate well enough with sufficient time period for health conditions/ injuries deemed temporary. As simple as that.4. As mentioned above, for all revocation/ post out matters, please check directly with the S1 Manpower Branch for all manpower issues.Edited by eac 16 Aug `15, 9:11PM
Extract from www.mindef.gov.sg/nsmen:
NSmen must update their NS HRCs if they should develop any new medical condition or if their existing medical condition has worsened which might affect their ability to perform their duties during ICT. Arrangements will then be made for them to attend a medical review at the SAF medical centre to assess their fitness for NS.
The NSmen MUST bring along all investigation results and memorandums from his external physician/ specialist during the medical review. Depending on the outcome of the medical review, the NSman may be given a medical certificate to defer him from ICT, be scheduled for a medical board to downgrade him if his medical condition is significant, or referred to a restructured hospital for further investigation. In the event that the medical officer determines that the NSman’s medical condition will not affect his ability to participate in the ICT, he will allow the NSman to attend the ICT.Edited by eac 13 Aug `15, 10:16PM
Yes, please declare honestly and truthfully.
It will added as an additional input to your already permanent PES C range.
Please submit the hospital specialist memo to the camp doctor to assess and process.
As usual, please refer to this guideline:
More can be done to monitor and support national servicemen with mental health issues, according to two experts who used to work with the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).
These include fighting the stigma attached to such illnesses, raising awareness about mental health and having more in-camp psychiatrists.
Earlier this week, State Coroner Imran Abdul Hamid delivered his findings on the death of Private Ganesh Pillay Magindren, who was found at the foot of his Sengkang condominium last July.
The 23-year-old had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, which distorts a person’s thoughts and emotions, causing him to lose touch with reality.
Handling a mentally ill soldier is not easy. They require proper attention and a suitable working environment for them to thrive, said psychiatrists contacted by The New Paper. For this to happen, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has to take ownership of its soldiers, Dr Ang Yong Guan said.
Dr Ang, who is in private practice, was the head of the Psychological Care Centre (PCC) at the Military Medicine Institute during his 23 years with the SAF from 1986 to 2003.
He said that of his 4,500 patients, there are fewer than 10 cases of full-time national servicemen (NSF).
"I forward each NSF's case to the SAF. I believe the organisation should be responsible for its own soldiers," he said.
But he thinks that the majority of these cases do not get picked up.
"(When I was at PCC) I always made it a point to monitor those soldiers who had severe mental illnesses. I would even call their private psychiatrists to find out more.
"Only if the organisation's leaders are committed to monitoring and helping these patients can they be given the right attention and help," Dr Ang said.
Consultant psychiatrist Ken Ung of Adam Road Medical Centre said that when a soldier is found to be mentally ill, steps should be taken to ensure he is placed in a suitable working environment.
Dr Ung, who sees about 30 to 50 cases of NSFs a month, said that superiors and colleagues should also understand that problematic soldiers may not always be trying to play the system.
"There are cases where the superiors are very understanding and sympathetic towards their condition and always willing to listen to them, and (the patients) thrive," he said.
But those who had difficult bosses could lead to a downward spiral of the soldier's condition, he said.
"I've had such patients who became more and more depressed, constantly had nightmares. Parents would complain about their behaviour and some even had suicidal thoughts," he said.
Superiors should give their subordinates the benefit of the doubt, said Dr Ung, adding that they should be proactive and take the time to find out if their soldiers are all right.
"The SAF is a microcosm of society. It's inevitable that you will get soldiers who are mentally ill. So you should learn how to handle and manage them."
The Ministry of Defence (Mindef) said in a statement on Tuesday that it will study the State Coroner's findings carefully to improve and tighten its procedures to ensure better compliance by Singapore Armed Forces units in dealing with soldiers with mental problems.
This article was published on April 12, 2014 in The New Paper.
Helping servicemen serve
Story by Benita Teo
Serving in the military is certainly no mean feat. And when the security of the nation is in one’s hands, mental strength is as important as, if not more so than, physical fitness.
When the going gets tough, it is often helpful to talk it out with a trusted family or friend. But, even with the best of intentions, not everyone is able to fully comprehend the intricacies of military life.
To help the servicemen and women of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) cope with the challenges of their military roles, the counsellors of the SAF Counselling Centre (SCC) are always ready to lend a listening ear. In fact, the team at SCC provides professional counselling services not only to all members of the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and SAF, but also to their families.
Learning to live the military life
Unlike civilian counselling centres, the SCC comes under military mandate, and its primary purpose is to provide mental health care to ensure that servicemen are able to carry out their duties efficiently.
Of the types of cases the SCC sees, Mrs Marlene Koh, Head of Education and Prevention Services, noted that the majority were Full-time National Servicemen (NSFs) with adaptation issues. "Not everybody is used to dealing with authority. They all came in as students who only had to take care of their own studies."
She added: "The second, smaller group would be Regulars with career or family issues. A third group comprises families and soldiers affected by critical incidents that happened around them, for instance training incidents or a death in the family."
Servicemen in distress may seek help directly with the SCC through two channels: face-to-face sessions or the 24-hour SAF Counselling Hotline. On top of these, a Family Support Helpline is also available for the family members of soldiers deployed overseas who are in need of assistance.
Eyes and ears on the ground
To help junior and senior commanders to identify and assist men under their charge who are at risk of emotional distress, the SCC conducts regular workshops. In addition to basic counselling skills, stress management and suicide prevention are also taught at the workshops.
Ms Cheryl Chia, an SCC counsellor with 14 years of experience, explained that equipping commanders with these skills is essential because "they are the eyes and ears on the ground".
Another set of eyes that the SCC relies on to spot at-risk servicemen are the paracounsellors - Regulars who volunteer to help look after the mental welfare of servicemen at the unit level. To be appointed as paracounsellors, they have to go through a five-day course organised by the SCC that teaches basic counselling, suicide prevention and crisis management skills.
Military Expert (ME) 3-3 Sulinder Singh, a Logistics Warrant Officer, has been a paracounsellor in his unit, 201 Squadron (SQN), since 2010. And being a familiar face in the unit means that servicemen know what to expect when they confide in him - trustworthiness.
"I'm quite approachable, and they know that if they talk to me, it will be confidential."
Besides assuaging doubts over client confidentiality, the counsellors and paracounsellors also dispelled the stigma of seeking help.
"(For) those who are in a position of command, it may be a 'face' issue," said SCC counsellor Lawrence Yap. "But so far, I've not encountered any clients (Regulars) who claimed that attending counselling affected their careers."
ME3-3 Singh echoed his sentiments: "Is there a stigma attached to people in the unit who see paracounsellors? No, not at all. They are not mentally ill, we just need to help them find the right way to organise their thoughts."
The counsellor is in
Help for a distressed soldier often begins with a visit to the Medical Officer (MO) with complaints of symptoms of stress. Said Ms Chia: "Usually they will say that they are unable to sleep or eat. When the MOs probe deeper and realise that the problem goes beyond a medical issue, they will refer them to us."
At the SCC, the soldier will be assigned a counsellor. Through the sessions, counsellor and soldier will work together to identify the problems and set goals towards overcoming them. The counsellor will also impart skills such as stress or anger management techniques.
When facing mental turmoil, a soldier may despair and lose his sense of self. One approach a counsellor may take is to remind him of his capabilities.
"Counselling is about instilling a sense of hope," said Mr Yap, who specialises in substance and drug addiction counselling. "Everyone has it in them to overcome a difficult situation. We just need to help them see that they are not as helpless as they think they are, and that the situation is not as hopeless as they think it is."
SCC counsellors also work with psychiatrists and psychologists from the Psychological Care Centre (PCC) at the SAF Medical Corps' Military Medicine Institute to provide all-round care to the soldier. PCC psychiatrists prescribe medication for conditions like depression while psychologists run tests to ascertain if a behavioural problem is linked to a learning or intellectual disability.
Helping others help themselves
With the ever-evolving social landscape, counsellors must stay up-to-date on new behavioural problems or addictions, such as social media addiction.
Mrs Koh also pointed out that there are now more cases of servicemen suffering anxieties about not performing well or meeting expectations, and that many expected others to solve their problems.
Mr Yap agreed: "To change, clients have to take personal responsibility for their actions."
Nonetheless, the counsellors take comfort in the knowledge that they are changing lives for the better.
Mrs Koh remembered a recruit who had attempted suicide after his girlfriend of four years ended their relationship and started seeing a friend of his behind his back. Mrs Koh helped him acknowledge his feelings of hurt and disappointment, and taught him constructive ways of managing his anger.
The recruit started to improve his relationship with his family and make new friends in his unit. Nine months later, he was finally able to move on from the break-up.
Ms Chia also recounted a recent case: "I had a client who wanted to kill himself. But after working with his unit and the psychiatrist, just before his ORD (Operationally Ready Date) he said, 'You gave me hope. Even though life ahead will be challenging, at least I know now that there are people who care, and that there is more to life than thinking about hurting myself.'"
She added: "He even baked us cupcakes as a 'thank you'. It's the little things like these (that let me know I’ve made a difference)."
If you are in need of help, or know someone who needs help, please call the following 24-hour hotline:
SAF Counselling Hotline
1800 278 0022
Families of service personnel deployed overseas who are in need of help can call the following 24-hour hotline:
Family Support Helpline
1800 278 0023
If you are interested in volunteering to be a paracounsellor, call the following number for more information:
NS have counselling hotlines for you to call if need arises.
The counsellors are experienced professionals.
You can call them at the following counselling hotlines:
- SAF : 1800-278 0022 (SAF Counselling Hotline)
- SPF : 1800-255 1151 (Police Psychology Service Department)
- SCDF: 1800-286 6666 (SCDF Counselling Hotline)
If you think you have been treated unfairly, you can bring up the case to your Commander. We will listen to your case. Do remember to bring along all facts and supporting documents.
We will do our best to address your concerns. Servicemen are to seek redress through proper channels. Together, we can address your issue more expeditiously.
The SAF seeks to promote the well-being of every serviceman by providing
counselling support for those whom might be facing difficulties coping with their
personal or work/training related problems. Servicemen who are experiencing
difficulties can seek help through the avenues described below.
Commander interviews of all recruits are conducted within 48 hours of enlistment into full-time NS. Regular interviews are subsequently conducted on a monthly basis during the PTP/BMT phase. Special interviews are also granted upon request. Servicemen can highlight their difficulties during these interviews for assistance.
Orientation Officers identify, assist and counsel BMT recruits with adjustment
and/or other personal problems.
NS SAF Counselling Hotline is a 24-hour confidential telephone
counselling service provided by the SAF Counselling Centre. Manned by
trained counselling personnel, the SAF Counselling Hotline offers a crisis
and telephone counselling service to all servicemen. Callers may
choose to remain anonymous. Face to face counselling is also available
at the SAF Counselling Centre upon request/referral.
SAF Paracounselling Scheme complements other existing counselling
services and provides another avenue of help at the unit level for those who
need help to deal more effectively with their problems. Paracounsellors are
specially selected, trained by and work closely under the professional guidance
and support of counsellors from the SAF Counselling Centre. Paracounsellors
can be identified through their identification badges as well as through publicity
posters displayed in their units.
Being psychologically prepared is all about knowing what to expect and being prepared for it.
To be better prepared, you can participate in Total Defence activities and Open Houses organised by the SAF/SPF/SCDF.
Perhaps you should also talk to your family members and friends who have lived the NS experience. The more you discuss with others, the more comfortable and mentally prepared you’ll become.
Life in NS revolves around structure, routine and discipline. This helps us stay united as a uniformed organisation as well as imparts the rigours necessary to protect our nation and citizens.
This does not mean there is just work and no play. In fact, after a few weeks in NS and you’ll find new friends and new reasons to smile!
As a soldier, one of the biggest adjustments you’ll have to make quickly is in regimentation and discipline.
Being in a uniformed organisation, you’ll have to obey orders from your superiors. Thus some of you may feel a sudden lack of freedom to do what you want and you may find yourself having difficulties accepting authority initially.
Regimentation and discipline build strong character and toughness, so that you’ll be tough enough to handle difficult combat, crime-fighting or rescue situations without giving up or breaking down.
When you first enlist into NS, you may have concerns of being in a new territory, with new faces and new things to do. But don’t let this get to you. Just remember the saying that “when the going gets tough, the tough gets going”.
Following are some tips on what you can do to prepare yourself psychologically:
- Adopt a positive perception
- Build up physical stamina
- Develop good working attitude and habits
- Overcome psychological stress
- Adopt teamwork spirit
- Learn to be independent
- Set realistic expectations
You can also speak to your friends or family members who have been through NS. Ask them to share their stories. The sharing will help you reduce some of your fears, uncertainties and doubts.
During NS you’ll be living with different people.
Because these people come from different backgrounds, they may not think like you do or react to situations like you would. Instead of trying to select your type of people, you should cherish the diversity. This is a chance for you to learn more about your fellow mates and their cultures.
You’ll find that you have many opportunities to absorb the different cultures—during training, eating, chatting or just seeing and listening. Take these opportunities and learn from people around you, you’ll have a much better appreciation of Singapore’s cultural diversity.
You will also have access to Orientation Officers who may be able to help you if the need arises.
We also have counselling hotlines for you to call if need arises. The counsellors are experienced professionals. You can call them at the following counselling hotlines:
- SAF : 1800-278 0022 (SAF Counselling Hotline)
- SPF : 1800-255 1151 (Police Psychology Service Department)
- SCDF: 1800-286 6666 (SCDF Counselling Hotline)