Reflections on National Service

As I near the end of my full time National Service (i.e conscription in Singapore), now seems a better time than any to reflect on my experiences in the past 2 years.

I still remember the day I enlisted into the army – as I was separated from my parents by the army sergeants, there was this cheesy banner that read “It’s not what you leave behind, it’s what you will gain in the days ahead”. I was skeptical then, but now I realized how true it is. In this short timespan, I’ve gained much from my experience, learnt many things that are not taught in school.

My journey began in ‘Whiskey’ company, Platoon 4, Section 2 of Basic Military Training (BMT) Centre. It was my first experience with community living – 14 strangers living together in a room not much larger than my living room. Although we were all of roughly the same education background, the similarities end there. Each of us have our own unique ideologies, quirks, strengths and weaknesses – all of which were amplified during military training – and yet we not just got along with each other, but enjoyed each other’s company tremendously.

My time in Specialist Cadet School (SCS) were probably the most fun in my Army experience. There, I met a wonderful bunch of friends that bought joy and laughter despite all the tiring field training, weekends spent at live firing and that one route march that never seems to end. They were also the ones that supported me wholeheartedly in my attempt to cross over to Officer Cadet School (OCS).

OCS was where I was trained to be an Officer, and boy, it was no walk in the park. I was stretched beyond my limits both physically and mentally. But one valuable life lesson I’ve learnt in OCS is that even when the going gets tough and there is no end in sight, keep going. Keep going even if you seemed to have lost everything, keep going even if there is no light at the end of the tunnel, for though there might be no reward at the end, you know you have persevered in the face of adversity.

The SAF Medical Training Institute was where I served as an Officer. It is also where I learnt the finer points of officership. For one it is definitely hard to preach the values of officership to a bunch of older, more mature Medical Officer cadets if you don’t practice what you preach. I have also learnt to show greater humility when dealing with others rather than having an inflated sense of self worth.

National Service has taught me many a valuable life lessons and provided me with great insights and opportunities, not to mention the many lifelong friendships forged. The past 2 years will definitely be a cherished memory.

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