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NSmen to get more perks in health care, housing, education

Soldiers can expect more benefits to help them balance work and family with military service
The Straits Times - April 25, 2014
By: Lee Jian Xuan
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NSmen to get more perks in health care, housing, education Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen visiting NSmen from the 702 Guards unit on Pulau Sudong yesterday. He said that more is being done to recognise NSmen's efforts, with details to come later this year. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

CITIZEN soldiers can expect more benefits in housing, health care and education soon, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, adding that more will be done to help them balance work and family with military service.

A package of "meaningful" benefits is being considered for operationally ready servicemen (NSmen), he said yesterday on the sidelines of a military exercise.

More details will be unveiled when the Committee to Strengthen National Service wraps up its deliberations in June, he said.

Started in March last year, the committee has reached out to about 40,000 people and is slated to release its report in the second half of the year.

"We want to centre the recognition benefits on giving (NSmen) a greater stake in Singapore, whether it is housing, health or education," said Dr Ng.

Currently, NSmen stand to receive $9,000 or $10,500, depending on rank, under the NS Recognition Award.

A third of this is paid into an NSman's post-secondary education account after he completes two years of service.

The rest is paid into his Central Provident Fund account in the middle and at the end of the reservist period, to meet housing or retirement needs.

"We are focused on helping NSmen contribute more and to balance their work and family commitments with NS," said Dr Ng. "We also want to empower people who want to volunteer for NS, like women, new citizens and permanent residents."

He was speaking on the sidelines of a visit to the fortnight-long Golden Sand exercise involving 800 personnel from the army, navy and air force on Pulau Sudong.

The exercise was also the swansong for 450 NSmen from the elite 702 Guards unit who have completed their 10-year NSmen training cycle. The unit's commanding officer, Major (NS) Melvin Kwek, 39, an executive director at a bank, noted that many of his men still had to take computers and mobile phones to camp to check in on work.

"We need to have flexibility in the training programme because of our family and work commitments. This provides an enhanced and positive experience for us."

Another soldier, pre-school art teacher Muhammad Fadly Asis, 36, said more recognition was needed.

"We should feature NSmen more in military parades such as the SAF Day and NDP (National Day Parade), and give incentives to employers who support NS training," he said.

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