Refer: www.imh.com.sgThe Institute of Mental Health (IMH) is a 2,000-bed acute tertiary psychiatric hospital situated on a 25-hectare campus at Buangkok Green Medical Park. Set amidst serene surroundings, IMH offers a comprehensive range of psychiatric, rehabilitative and counselling services for children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly.IMH’s tradition of care started in 1928. We were the first mental hospital in Singapore, starting with some 1,000 patients. Since then, many advances have been made in treatment, training, and research. Our treatment integrates evidence-based therapies, supported by the departments of clinical psychology, nursing, occupational therapy, and medical social work, to provide holistic care for our patients. IMH is equipped with modern facilities, with 50 wards for inpatients and seven Specialist Outpatient Clinics.IMH was the first mental health institution in Asia to receive the Joint Commission International Accreditation in 2005, a highly coveted international accreditation for healthcare organisations.Over the years, IMH has gained a reputation for quality research. In 2008, the Ministry of Health, Singapore, entrusted IMH with a S$25 million research grant to implement translational and clinical research into the causes of schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders.IMH also plays a key role in training the next generation of mental health professionals in Singapore. We train psychiatrists and mental health professionals through the NHG-AHPL Residency Programme for psychiatry and through collaborations with the local tertiary institutions.AddressBuangkok Green Medical Park10 Buangkok ViewSingapore 539747If you are facing a mental health crisis, please call our Crisis Helpline at 6389 2222 or seek medical help at our 24-hour Emergency Services located in our hospital.MOH to launch two new community-based mental health initiativesPosted: 12 November 2012 1930 hrsMinister of State for Health Dr Amy Khor announced in Parliament on Monday two new community-based mental health initiatives designed to improve Singaporeans' access to mental healthcare."We are developing Assessment and Shared Care Teams (ASCAT), which are specialist-led mental health teams based in the community, in order to improve access to mental health care. We are also developing Community Mental Health Intervention Teams (COMIT) to provide improved access to counselling and psychotherapy services in the community," said Dr Khor.Dr Khor also said that the Institute of Mental Health's (IMH) occupancy rate for the past three years averaged at about 80 per cent and that the hospital has sufficient capacity for new patients.There are currently about 2,000 beds across public hospitals in Singapore dedicated to mental health patients, with the majority in IMH.Responding to queries from Member of Parliament Mr Hri Kumar Nair on the criteria for admitting patients to IMH, Dr. Khor said those with conditions such as schizophrenia and depression may be admitted for closer monitoring.
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.
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.
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.
Under the Enlistment Act, NS-liable persons are enlisted at the earliest opportunity upon turning 18 years old. For those who are studying, MINDEF does allow some flexibility for them to complete their full-time studies up to the GCE 'A' Levels or Polytechnic Diploma (or their equivalent), both locally and overseas, before enlisting for NS. Those who have already embarked on their full-time studies but who do not meet the deferment conditions, will have to disrupt their studies and be enlisted for NS at the earliest opportunity scheduled by the Central Manpower Base (CMPB), including those who take up Singapore Permanent Residency in the midst of their studies.
Local Studies in Government Schools
GCE 'A' Level Studies and International Baccalaureate (IB) Studies
NS-liable persons will be granted deferment for GCE 'A' Level and IB studies (and their equivalent) at Junior Colleges/ Millennia Institute/ Integrated Programme (IP) schools if they are able to commence the course* before 19 years old (for Secondary 4 students) or 20 years old (for Secondary 5 students), as at 1st January of the course commencement year.
* For NS-liable persons who are pursuing their GCE 'A' Levels or IB in the IP schools, the deferment cut-off age will apply to the 5th year of study.
Exceptions may be considered for students who do not meet these deferment cut-off ages, but are able to gain admission into Junior Colleges/ Millennia Institute/ IP schools.
NS-liable persons who are returning from overseas and who wish to pursue studies in Junior Colleges/ Millennia Institute/ IP schools must seek prior approval from CMPB. They must do so before applying through the Ministry of Education (MOE)'s School Placement Exercise for Returning Singaporeans - Junior Colleges and Millennia Institute (SPERS-JC/MI), or before applying directly to the Junior Colleges/ Millennia Institute/ IP Schools. Persons who are deemed to have already attained a first education bar qualification (defined as GCE 'A' Levels, Polytechnic Diploma or equivalent qualifications), be it locally or overseas, will not be granted deferment to pursue another first education bar qualification or another qualification below first education bar.
Persons who have failed their General Paper (GP)/ Knowledge & Inquiry (KI) or obtained less than 3 H2 passes (excluding KI) in one sitting of the GCE 'A' Level examination will be considered for further deferment to repeat their GCE 'A' Level studies on a full-time basis, subject to one repeat only. Persons who have failed to attain the IB qualification will also be considered for further deferment to repeat their IB studies on a full-time basis, subject to one repeat only.
Polytechnic Diploma Studies
NS-liable persons will be granted deferment for Polytechnic Diploma studies (including Polytechnic Diploma through the Polytechnic Foundation Programme) and its equivalent qualifications (e.g. courses at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) or the LaSalle College of the Arts) if they are able to commence the course before 19 years old (for Secondary 4 students) or 20 years old (for Secondary 5 students), as at 1st January of the course commencement year.
NS-liable persons who graduated with NITEC/Higher NITEC qualification from ITE Colleges will be granted deferment for Polytechnic Diploma studies and its equivalent qualifications if they are able to commence the course before 21 years old as at 1st January of the course commencement year. Applications for deferment from ITE graduates who are above 21 years old as at 1st January of their course commencement year will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
NS-liable persons who are returning from overseas and who wish to pursue Polytechnic Diploma studies and its equivalent qualifications must seek prior approval from CMPB before applying for their intended course of study. Persons who are deemed to have already attained a first education bar qualification (defined as GCE 'A' Levels, Polytechnic Diploma or equivalent qualifications), be it locally or overseas, will not be granted deferment to pursue another first education bar qualification or another qualification below first education bar.
Institute of Technical Education (ITE) Diploma Studies
NS-liable persons who completed NITEC or Higher NITEC studies at ITE Colleges, will be granted deferment to pursue the Technical Engineer Diploma (TED) or Technical Diploma (TD) programmes at ITE Colleges if they are able to commence the course before 21 years old, as at 1st January of the course commencement year. They will be granted deferment to complete the academic phase only, and will be enlisted for full-time NS at the earliest opportunity upon completion of the academic phase. Deferment will not be granted for work attachments and internships. Applications for deferment from ITE graduates who are above 21 years old as at 1st January of their course commencement year will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
NS-liable persons who are returning from overseas and who wish to pursue ITE Diploma studies must seek prior approval from CMPB before applying for their intended course of study. Persons who are deemed to have already attained a first education bar qualification (defined as GCE 'A' Levels, Polytechnic Diploma or equivalent qualifications), be it locally or overseas, will not be granted deferment to pursue another first education bar qualification or another qualification below first education bar.
NITEC and Higher NITEC Studies
NS-liable persons will be granted deferment for NITEC or Higher NITEC courses at ITE Colleges if they are able to commence the course before 19 years old (for Secondary 4 students) or 20 years old (for Secondary 5 students), as at 1st January of the course commencement year.
NS-liable persons who graduated with NITEC qualification from ITE Colleges will also be granted deferment for Higher NITEC courses if they are able to commence the course at ITE Colleges before 20 years old, as at 1st January of the course commencement year.
NS-liable persons who are returning from overseas and who wish to pursue NITEC or Higher NITEC studies at ITE Colleges must seek prior approval from CMPB before applying for their intended course of study. Persons who are deemed to have already attained a first education bar qualification (defined as GCE 'A' Levels, Polytechnic Diploma or equivalent qualifications), be it locally or overseas, will not be granted deferment to pursue another first education bar qualification or another qualification below first education bar.
GCE 'O' and 'N' Level Courses
NS-liable persons will generally be granted deferment to pursue GCE 'O' and 'N' Level studies at government, government-aided or independent secondary schools.
An extension of deferment may be granted for those who wish to repeat their GCE 'N' or 'O' Level studies on a full-time basis, subject to one repeat only.
Local Private Courses
NS-liable persons who graduated before September 2011 may be granted deferment to pursue full-time studies (up to the GCE 'A' Levels, Polytechnic Diploma or equivalent qualifications) at private institutions registered with the Council for Private Education (CPE), if they are able to commence the course before 18 years old, as at 1st January of the course commencement year. NS-liable persons graduating from September 2011 onwards may be granted deferment to pursue full-time studies (up to the GCE 'A' Levels, Polytechnic Diploma or equivalent qualifications) at private institutions registered with the CPE, if they are able to commence their courses before 19 years old (for Secondary 4 students) or 20 years old (for Secondary 5 & ITE students), as at 1st January of the course commencement year. The higher cut-off age will apply to courses commencing from 1st January 2012 onwards.
Deferment for private courses will be considered on a stage-by-stage basis (i.e. a Certificate course and a Diploma course, if packaged together, will be treated as separate courses for the purpose of granting deferment). A new application for deferment must be made before the commencement of a new stage of studies. Deferment for the new stage of studies will be subject to the same cut-off age stated in the preceding paragraph.
NS-liable persons who graduated before September 2011 may be granted deferment to pursue full-time overseas studies (up to the GCE 'A' Levels, Polytechnic Diploma or their equivalent qualifications) if they are able to commence the course before 18 years old, as at 1st January of the course commencement year. NS-liable persons graduating from September 2011 onwards may be granted deferment to pursue full-time overseas studies (up to the GCE 'A' Levels, Polytechnic Diploma or their equivalent qualifications) if they are able to commence their courses before 19 years old (for Secondary 4 students) or 20 years old (for Secondary 5 & ITE students), as at 1st January of the course commencement year. The higher cut-off age will apply to courses commencing from 1st January 2012 onwards.
NS-liable persons will be required to apply for an exit permit for overseas trips of 3 months and longer and will be required to furnish a bond of $75,000 or an amount equivalent to 50% of the combined annual gross income of both parents for the preceding year, whichever is higher.
Application for Deferment
NS-liable persons may apply for deferment online at the NS portal (http://www.ns.sg) during NS registration and pre-enlistment documentation.
Those applying for deferment to pursue local studies may be required to furnish documentary proof for verification upon CMPB's request. Upon CMPB's request, they will be required to submit to CMPB a letter from their school certifying their enrolment, their course of study, as well as their course commencement and completion dates.
Those applying for deferment to pursue overseas studies must submit to CMPB a letter from their school certifying their enrolment, their course of study as well as their course commencement and completion dates. In addition, they must submit their parents' Income Tax Notices of Assessment (both local and overseas) for the preceding year.
Those who subsequently wish to pursue or switch to a new course or institution must seek prior approval from CMPB.
Notes: The information provided in this website are general guidelines. For further details, you may wish to contact the NS Call Centre at [email protected] or Tel:1800-3676767 (eNSNSNS).
Refer: HereEdited by eac 09 Apr `14, 9:48AM
Well, it depends on the scale of Diagnosis, Extent of Diagnosis, Degree of Diagnosis/Injury/Illness/Disease...etc.
As always, please refer to this guideline:
X Ah Long Hotline - 1800-924-5664
At the Committee of Supply Debates, Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen announced that he would chair a Committee to Strengthen National Service (CSNS).
In order to capture a broad spectrum of views and perspectives on NS, the CSNS comprises a Steering Committee of 20 members from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. The CSNS will recommend measures to strengthen NS as the critical institution for Singapore’s continued survival and success. A strong defence and security protects our sovereignty and way of life. The measures should further:
- Motivate National Servicemen to give of their fullest in performing their duties;
- Help National Serviceman balance these duties with family, career and personal commitments;
- Strengthen support for NS from families, employers, schools, permanent residents, new citizens and the broader community; and
- Promote recognition and appreciation of the contributions of
Want to make a real difference in the National Service experience? Do take a moment to share with us your feedback on how to strengthen National Service. You can also take part in an online discussion on how you can contribute in a meaningful manner to strengthen National Service.
The CSNS is expected to submit its recommendation proposal due in the middle or later this year, 2014.
Please submit the hospital specialist memo to the camp doctor to assess and process.
As usual, please refer to this guideline:
Login to the 24/7 One-Stop Service Centre for NS: www.ns.sg
Then call the 24/7 NS Hotline at 1800-3676767 to ask a customer service officer.
Daughters, Sisters, Soldiers
Story by Teo Jing Ting | Photos by Chua Soon Lye & Chai Sian Liang
As they join their male counterparts and tough it out in Basic Military Training (BMT), this bunch of recruits tells PIONEER why they chose the path less taken.
They look like your average female Junior College (JC) students. Small-framed, faces clean of make-up, hair tied up. Standing next to one another in rows of six, dressed in singlets, shorts and sports shoes. Except that instead of your typical JC physical education shirts, these ladies are wearing the Physical Training (PT) shirt - the one worn in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).
Fresh out of school, they have chosen an atypical career route, challenging stereotypes and joining the military.
Their reason? These women just want to play a part in protecting their country.
Doing their part
For Recruit (REC) Joelle Cheong, signing on was simply her way of contributing to society and Singapore's security.
"Becoming a Regular is an opportunity for me to instil into NSFs (Full-time National Servicemen) a sense of pride to be able to serve our country," said the 19-year-old.
"When some NSFs enlist, they are very bitter about it as they don't see the point in doing NS (National Service). I want to be in a position to show them that what they are doing is meaningful and actually matters to the country."
While her decision was easy, the same could not be said when it came to convincing the Raffles JC alumna’s parents. Like some mothers, Mrs Cheong harboured fears that her daughter would become too manly or uncouth and be unable to find a husband.
However, after chatting with female Regulars about their concerns, REC Cheong's parents eventually accepted her choice.
"My dad was a Commando and his experience was very xiong (Hokkien for tough), so my mum was afraid of that!" she laughed.
Unlike REC Cheong's parents, REC Shaidatul Nur Ashqin Bte Ghazali's family had a very different reaction when she announced her decision to enlist.
"When my dad took me to the SAF Ferry Terminal, he was very proud and had his arms around me as though he was saying, 'I'm sending my daughter in!'" said REC Shaidatul with a smile.
In fact, the Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) graduate's parents encouraged her to sign on when she was 19. However, REC Shaidatul decided to get a degree first, and studied accounting at SIM before coming back to her first love - the military.
"As a chairman of the Mountbatten Youth Executive Committee, I deal mainly with youths who are not very academically-inclined. So for me, signing on is not only giving back to the country, but also to inspire the youths," said the 25-year-old, who has been a grassroots leader for the past seven years.
Both recruits enlisted on 5 Feb, along with 31 other girls, making this the largest ever batch to enlist at any one time in the SAF.
Grit and determination
Despite knowing roughly what BMT would be like from watching shows and speaking to their male friends, some things still came as a shock to the girls. While the usual five basic exercises and regimentation were still tolerable, others, like regular water parades to prevent dehydration, were not as easy to get used to.
For REC Samantha Wun, the first few days of BMT were difficult and she even suffered from insomnia the first three nights.
"I kept telling myself, 'I can do it'," said the SIM business management graduate.
"Then the sergeants were asking us to get in line and started screaming at us to go for water parades. I'm not used to drinking 500ml of water every hour! On top of that, there's not much freedom here so it was a culture shock for me."
With a background in dragon-boating, REC Wun naturally had an upper hand compared to the other female recruits when it came to physical training. As such, activities like the Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) and Standard Obstacle Course (SOC) were a breeze to her. In fact, the 26-year-old even beat her Platoon Sergeant in a pull-up challenge by doing 20 to his 17, thus earning the nickname "Muscle Woman"!
On the other hand, training has been especially strenuous for REC Cheong, who suffered from such bad muscle aches that she could barely lift her legs or climb the stairs in the early days.
"It has not been easy for me. To be able to do things like the Low Rope or even the 2.4km run, I had to tell myself, with every step, to just push forward and keep trying," she said.
When recruits are introduced to the SOC, one of the obstacles they (guys and girls alike) tend to find challenging is the Low Rope. Despite having weaker arm strength than their male counterparts, the female recruits were determined to conquer the obstacle, even if it meant doing it over and over again till they had blisters.
As REC Shaidatul put it: "As long as I haven’t reached the top, I'm not going to let my hands off this rope. It’s damn tough, but it’s worth the effort."
During the first three weeks of BMT, physical challenges were not the only things that the girls had to adjust to.
For REC Cheong, BMT was a constant struggle in battling both physical and emotional stress and still finding the strength to continue. And growing up in a close-knit family added to her stress of being away from home.
Holding back tears which threatened to fall, she said: "My parents wrote me letters and I couldn't even bear to finish reading them. I read two words of my mum's letter and I started crying so badly that I couldn't continue.
"Thank god this (getting emotional) always happens when I'm in my bunk, so I'll just cry and I'll be fine."
REC Shaidatul, on the other hand, would keep conversations with her mother over the phone short or just ask about her cats during the call to distract herself. "That's a way of diverting my attention away from the emotional stuff," she explained.
Dealing with separation
One of the most frequent complaints of every male recruit when they enlist is being unable to see their girlfriends, who then break up with them during NS. What about the female recruits?
Asked about her boyfriend's reaction to her enlisting, REC Cheong said: "He was very proud that I could do something a lot of boys find difficult, and that I was doing it voluntarily. And he really respects me for it, so that keeps me going."
Despite missing him immensely, REC Cheong felt that it was probably much easier for her in BMT than it was for her loved ones. Recruits were often busy dealing with a new environment and physical training, while their loved ones had to deal with missing them when they "looked at an empty chair or bed", she explained.
"I hope all NSFs can understand, instead of just blaming the girl and NS for 'taking away' their girlfriends. It's a two-way challenge and a test of your relationship," she added.
REC Deborah Koh felt that being away in BMT was like travelling overseas. Communication and encouragement from her boyfriend kept her spirits high.
"We try to set up ways of coping for ourselves, like texting and calling, so at least there's some contact. He's very supportive of me and tells me that he’s proud of me."
As the weeks passed, the bond among the recruits grew stronger.
That sense of camaraderie was especially apparent during physical training. Words of encouragement were exchanged and cheers were the loudest whenever it came to IPPT or SOC training.
"You can see everyone encouraging each other to do more chin-ups and pull yourself up one more time," said REC Wun.
"And it works. At the start, one of my section mates could not even manage one, but now she can do at least six! It's a vast improvement and it shows that encouragement from your section mates can really motivate you."
As the Chin-up In-Charge (IC), REC Wun also plays her part by taking time out to guide the girls on strengthening their arm muscles.
"Every night, I help them with their pull-ups and ask them to hold on for five seconds to build up their back muscles. Then I slowly lower them down. We do two sets every night and this really helps to strengthen their back muscles and arms," explained REC Wun.
For some, military commands, which are in Malay, can be a tough challenge. This is where REC Shaidatul comes in, as she is fluent in both Malay and Chinese.
"If my bunkmates are unsure of any commands, I translate them into Chinese," said the Higher-Chinese student. "I teach them to listen to the second last word, because whatever comes in front is usually just a command, the last two words are the instructions."
Of the bond among the girls, she said: "If someone doesn’t know anything, we will go and help her. We're like sisters."
My rifle is my husband
In BMT, there are several defining moments; receiving the Singapore Assault Rifle (SAR) 21 is undeniably one of them. Usually termed as a recruit's wife, the rifle becomes a "husband" in the hands of female recruits. Some of them have even named their weapons.
Jokes aside, REC Koh said she felt honoured when she received her rifle. "Sometimes people say that it can be a burden carrying the SAR-21 around, but it makes me feel like a soldier as I'm reminded of why I'm doing this and what I'm doing this for," said the National University of Singapore (NUS) psychology undergraduate.
When it came to weapons, the disparity between the male and female recruits became a little more apparent. During a lecture about the SAR-21, while most of the male recruits could answer questions about the guns, the female recruits were more hesitant when answering.
Similarly, when it came to weapon handling, the girls were slightly slower in getting the hang of it. The sergeants conducted a one-to-one session to teach them to strip and assemble the rifles.
The female recruits fared well eventually in the test by stripping the SAR-21 under 45 seconds and assembling it back under 60. In fact, they all scored about 90 marks or more (upon 100) in the technical handling test, with 40 percent clinching full marks.
Another milestone to cross in BMT is the 6km route march.
While it may seem like a small feat, compared to the 24km march that recruits have to complete for their Passing Out Parade (POP), the 6km is the first route march where the recruits get a taste of walking with a full 20kg load (which includes their field pack and SAR-21).
"At first, when we put on the field pack and rifle, we were like 'can lah, 6km should still be able to handle'. But after walking one round (about 3km), all we could think of was 'when is the rest time?'" laughed REC Wun.
Nursing aching backs and in sweat-drenched shirts, the recruits were seen giving each other shoulder massages at the first rest stop. Despite having crossed the halfway mark, their journey became tougher after the 15-minute break as fatigue weighed down upon them.
This was especially so for REC Wun, who volunteered to hold the 2m-long company flag while marching. This meant an additional 2kg on top of her 20kg load.
And if the occasional breeze was a welcome respite from the blazing sun for most recruits, it was just the opposite for REC Wun.
"When the flag blows in the wind, it becomes harder to control," explained the gutsy recruit, who felt that the flag weighed "more like 10kg".
To take their minds off the physical fatigue, the recruits even sang songs such as Counting Stars by One Republic and Home by Kit Chan, on top of the usual Army songs, in order to motivate one another.
Marching alongside the recruits, the sergeants were also a source of motivation for them.
"They kept asking us if we were ok and to drink up," said REC Shaidatul. "When you see these commanders around, you just want to be as good as what they expect of you."
One of the recruits was having problems keeping up with the rest of the platoon.
In the spirit of "No (wo)man gets left behind", REC Wun held her hand and reminded her of why she chose to be in BMT. In the end, the recruit managed to complete the route march with the help and motivation of her fellow platoon mates.
Said REC Shaidatul: "This is just not one person's journey; everyone's marching together."
Agreeing, REC Wun added: "Even if you finished first, you would not feel as good as compared to completing it together with the rest of your platoon."
We are soldiers
The recruits are lying in wait among dense jungle vegetation. Well-hidden behind trees and shrubs with camouflage paint on their faces and leaves on their helmets, they take aim with their rifles.
Their "enemies" enter the vicinity and scan the jungle with eagle-sharp eyes. It’s a matter of time before the concealed recruits are spotted. They stay still. A mere twitch and they might just give their positions away.
This scenario was part of the individual field craft lessons that the recruits have to learn before they are thrown into field camp.
Split into two groups, the recruits take turns to learn the technique of camouflaging themselves in the jungle and hiding in the best places while the others try their best to spot those hidden from a distance away.
Knowing something and actually doing it is very different, REC Cheong realised, especially when she was given only a few seconds to prone on the grimy ground.
"Because you have a time limit (to hide), you find the most spider-webby and leafy place and just lie there. And after that, you realise 'oh shit, there's something crawling up your leg'," she laughed.
A "low point" of their training was the leopard crawl, where they literally "ate" the sand on the ground. As they sprawled flat on their tummies and moved their elbows and knees as fast as possible to get across the ground, the recruits kicked up a huge brownish-yellow cloud of dust and sand.
The slower ones were left in the wake of dust and sand as the faster recruits moved ahead. Many were seen coughing and choking even after they completed the crawl.
"It's really tough," said REC Wun. "The dust hits you in the face so you can't even breathe when you’re doing the leopard crawl."
Training may be arduous, but it was precisely that which made them into soldiers, added REC Cheong. "When I do this, I see how it can be applied during war; I see why I want to be in the Army and why I want to protect my country. And it gives me the drive to keep going."
When asked if they had any expectations of what field camp would be like, the girls were unanimous in their replies - "exhausting". But they were prepared and raring to go. In the words of REC Shaidatul: "It's just five days. Make it or break it."
Ready to press on
It's only been five weeks (at time of print) and the girls are already bracing themselves for even tougher times ahead.
With more to come in the second half of their BMT, such as their first field camp, the recruits know that it is not going to be easy.
What's going to pull them through?
"My personal goal is to overcome the hardships that we all face, and to POP successfully and in glory," said REC Shaidatul. "It's not all about myself, but my bunkmates, platoon mates and the one who is marching next to me. At the end of the day, I'm not going through this alone."
For others, the "push" factor to carry on could just be something as simple as love.
"You just look across the shore (from Tekong) and you feel all these emotional ties and nostalgia," said REC Koh.
"It's because of the people back home. That’s why we're doing this and why we want to protect our country."
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:
As all the NS units' S1 Manpower Branch reports to the CPC in CMPB, hence it is better to seek assistance from the NS unit's S1 Manpower Branch.
Usually, temporary PES personnel are often temporary revocation as either clerk or storeman. So if in doubt, it is the best to seek help from the NS unit's S1 Manpower Branch since it handles all personnel manpower administration.
It can be anywhere from PES B to B2 to C2 range.
GPs' note is so-so okay only, so best is public hospital specialist memo (most usually the case and highly recommended).
As always, please refer to this guideline:
http://sgforums.com/forums/1390/topics/392446Edited by eac 01 Apr `14, 1:18PM
FYI, PES is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PULHHEEMS.
1) Go to Public Hospital / Private Specialist.
Note: You will be classified as a subsidised patient if your first visit is via:
- Referral letter from a Government Restructured Hospital under subsidised status, A&E, Polyclinic or SAF, without specifying a specialist by name.
- Discharge from inpatient class B2 or C without
specifying a specialist by
2) Consult specialist, and do whatever medical check ups required. E.g. physical exam, blood test, x-ray, CT scan, MRI scan.
3) Specialist gave a finalised clinical diagnosis.
4) Get the specialist to write you a memo which is to be given to SAF MO. Those who can and are willing to spend some more money can get him/her to write you a specialist report, which is more precise and detailed.
Note: For not to waste time and money, please be more direct yet humble. Request the specialist to write about reviewing of PES and medical board / anything specific such as any excuses to your conditions.
5) Book an medical review appointment using the eHealth module @ www.ns.sg (for NSman Reservists).
Just go down to your camp medical centre (for NSFs).
Call CMPB @ 6373 1340 to request another PES review (for Pre-Enlistees after CMPB Checkup).
6) Make a trip down to the respective unit camp medical centre. Give the MO whatever supporting documents you have in hand. E.g. Specialist memo/report (most usually the case and highly recommended), x-ray films, CT/MRI scan report, blood investigation lab report... etc.
7) MO will decide whether you are deemed eligible for KIV downgrade, according to the criterias set in the "PES Bible" directive. E.g. Diagnosis, Extent of Diagnosis, Degree of Diagnosis/Injury/Illness/Disease...etc.
8) If deemed so, you will sign an acknowledgement notice of Medical Board, whereby your case statement is prepared for review discussion at the monthly medical board meet (usually at the Formation/Division HQ) with another NSF CPT MO and the Chairman (SAF Regular Medical Doctor of MAJOR rank or above). Your Medical Board result will be post mailed to you by your respective NSHRC (Formation NS Hub).
Time and time again, the questions for Medical Review (Downgrade) is repetitive. Therefore, this serves as a general SOP for Medical Board.
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.