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Greater efforts to boost voluntary support for National Service

TODAY reports: Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen says he is heartened by the positive response, and plans to expand efforts for the Singapore Armed Forces Volunteer Corps.

SINGAPORE: Women, first-generation permanent residents and new citizens have stepped up to be a part of the Singapore Armed Forces Volunteer Corps’ (SAFVC), and the first cohort of the 226-strong force completed its training last June, with some deployed to carry out duties on board navy vessels, or to assist with security at places such as airports and army camps.

Sharing this in the Ministry of Defence’s Addendum to the President’s address, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said: “We are heartened by the positive response and will expand our efforts for the SAFVC.”

The SAFVC was formed in October 2014 to give more citizens and permanent residents a chance to contribute to Singapore’s defence.

It was recommended by the Committee to Strengthen National Service, which is tasked to look into ways to boost the National Service (NS) system and enhance public support for it.

Volunteers with SAFVC may contribute by being a legal specialist, defence psychologist, engineer, medical trainer, or helping with publicity, among others. There were more than 200 applicants within the first week of the positions’ opening.

SAF Volunteer 1 (SV1) May Tan Zi Shan, 39, is among those who have been deployed, as an Auxiliary Security Trooper. A systems engineer, SV1 Tan said she signed up hoping to do more for Singapore. She was deployed during the National Day Parade last year to assist in security operations and crowd-control.

“After my deployment with some of our National Servicemen, I am better able to appreciate the sacrifices they have gone through,” she said.

This year, some of the other committee’s recommendations that will be rolled out include gifts for active national servicemen to mark the milestones in their lives, such as when they get married or have a child, Dr Ng said.

They will also get basic life and personal accident insurance coverage, and more national servicemen who perform well during their NS training will also receive gift vouchers to spend on their families.

A new accreditation scheme called the NS Mark will be launched to recognise employers and businesses with supportive human resources practices for their employees who have to report for NS. In conjunction with the 50th anniversary of National Service in 2017, a series of NS50 activities are in the works.

Read the original TODAY report here.