My first (and only) time stepping into the vicinity of a military training ground, was about two years ago when I tagged along with my parents, my aunts and uncles to send my cousin off to this remote island across the shore called Pulau Tekong, for his National Service enlistment.
Batches of young boys (some already shaved bald, and some about to be shaved bald) waited anxiously in line at the bus interchange, boarding the shuttle bus with heavy hearts and boggling minds. Parents who accompanied their children were still more or less in a chirpy mood, or was it mere pretence?
The atmosphere intensifies a little upon reaching the pier, where we boarded an air-conditioned vessel that took us across the calm waters. The rather comfortable boat ride did help ease the anxiety, if any was displayed at all.
We arrived at a resort-looking premise that will be home to the recruits for the next few months, where their Basic Military Training will be conducted. The mere façade brought sighs of relief to those who accompanied the soon-to-be army boys. We took a tour around the living quarters and even got to sample the food that army boys consume in the canteen. Parents were nodding in approval, of the standards of food served, and the clean living condition (which the army boys have to upkeep by cleaning regularly).
Everyone gathered at the auditorium, and at this point of time, the boys were no longer sitting by their parents’ sides. The boys recite the pledge with pride, and officially become a National Service recruit.
When it was time to bid goodbye, parents could now no longer mask the worries on their faces. “Will my son be able to withstand the rigorous training under the scorching sun and stifling heat?” “My son is going to miss my home-cooked food!” “There isn’t anyone to help my son with the washing and cleaning… Will he be able to cope?” Tears would brim the eyes of girlfriends (or boyfriends), who eagerly anticipate the day of their meeting after the weeks of intense training on the remote island.
The determined rookies would comfort their loved ones with that sparkling confidence in their eyes, before marching off as a dramatic conclusion to their temporary-absence and the commencement of their manhood.
The gruelling training and countless of obstacles the boys (who became men) undergo throughout their National Service is understated. Without the sacrifice from NSmen, Singapore would not have enjoyed peace and stability, social progress and continued economic development over the past decades.
To thank the National Servicemen for their hardship and dedication, MINDEF is giving them the opportunity to enjoy SAFRA Benefits with their families, in conjunction with National Service’s 45th anniversary celebration.
Each and every National Serviceman will receive $50 to $100 worth of vouchers, which can be used to redeem a wide variety of products and services at over 170 merchants and 5,000 outlets island-wide. These range from F&B and entertainment to shopping, lifestyle and travel, among many others. (View the list of redemption outlets here.)
In addition, National Servicemen who are currently serving Operationally Ready National Service (ORNS), or who have completed their ORNS training cycle in full, will also be offered a year’s free SAFRA membership.
The sweat and tears from the strenuous NS training are now exchanged for joy and laughter spent at SAFRA Clubs, with the warmth of their families and loved ones, who also experienced an immense amount of stress and distress during their absence.
Family bonding never ceases at SAFRA.
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