SINGAPORE: Only one serviceman - out of the 6,000 Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) personnel deployed for overseas operations in the last two decades - was found to have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The number is "not higher" than that of SAF personnel in general nor is it greater than the incidence among the general population, said Senior Minister of State for Defence Dr Maliki Osman in Parliament on Monday (Mar 19).
He was responding to a Parliamentary question by Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Dennis Tan, who asked about cases of PTSD or psychological disorders found in servicemen during or after overseas deployment since 1999.
Dr Maliki attributed the low number to the selection policies and support system in place for such servicemen.
“The low rate can be attributed to the selection, pre-deployment training and mental health support system in place for our servicemen," he said. “This includes psychological preparation, screening, and briefs on threat assessments.”
For servicemen, their ability to communicate with family and friends back in Singapore also played a part in keeping PTSD incidences low, added Dr Maliki.
“IT connections - despite being in remote areas of Iraq and Afghanistan - are good, so SAF personnel are able to speak to their family members frequently,” he said.
On their return, all personnel are also assessed for their psychological well-being for "early intervention" by psychologists and psychiatrists where necessary, explained Dr Maliki.
Compensation for psychiatric or psychological disorders follows that of the overall framework for disabilities or injuries arising from service, he said.
"Consults and treatment of affected personnel are fully subsidised at government structured clinics and hospitals as long as required even after his term of service," said Dr Maliki.
He added: “For servicemen whose disorders were due to service but manifested after they have left the SAF, they are also eligible for the same terms of treatment.”
PREVIOUS HIGH-PROFILE OVERSEAS INVOLVEMENTS
Singapore had in the past sent 492 SAF servicemen to Afghanistan during a six-year deployment to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force. It was the SAF's longest overseas deployment, and ended in June 2013.
Since December 2014, Singapore has also contributed to the counter-terrorism coalition that has been battling the Islamic State terror group, according to the Ministry of Defence in previous media reports.
In 2017, SAF sent a medical support team in Iraq for about three months as part of its contribution to the multinational coalition fighting Islamic State.
Last October, 75 soldiers from the Singapore Armed Forces – who have since returned from their deployment in Qatar and Kuwait - were awarded medals for serving in a multinational coalition fighting to defeat Islamic State.