NSmen Share: How Kids Can Learn From Our NS Journeys   

NSmen share valuable insights they'd like kids to learn from their unique military experiences. 

By Sean Yee        13 July 2022

If you were to ask a kid what they think of NS, it is likely you’ll get a slew of adorable descriptions of guns and tanks. This month, we asked some of our NSmen to reflect on their most pivotal moments during their National Service, and lessons they would like kids to learn from them.  


“I’ll likely tell my kids the exact same thing my dad had once told me – embrace people that are different from you, for they may teach you some surprising lessons about yourselves.

Working together in the army isn’t a matter of choice, but rather, a way of life. We had to find common ground that navigated past our own biases and prejudices to get the task done. Even since our basic military days, they aggressively instilled the concept of teamwork with the saying – one for all, all for one – casually tossed around. It was extremely common that we were punished for the mistakes of others and held responsible not just for our own welfare, but the welfare of the entire group. It doesn’t matter if we liked one another or not. 

It is a struggle to deal with personalities that are extreme opposites from your own. Though in retrospect, it is these unique individuals that I have learnt from the most.” – Stan Ho, CFC, 22LSG


“I would like to think that I have grown more resilient since my NS days, and so have my peers. Kids are increasingly sheltered and overprotected, and it would be an extremely valuable experience to have them go against adversity that makes them uncomfortable, to have them not quit when things get tough. As they say, only the strongest survive.

My initial NS experience wasn’t pleasant. I love the feeling of independence; the freedom of doing whatever I want, whenever I like. Because of that, it was tough having people dictate my entire day, from the time I wake up to the time I get to eat. This even led to a few altercations with my sergeants and officers. It did occur to me later that I may had been unreasonable. If everyone had gotten their way, nothing would get done.” – Po Tat Sang, CFC, 3AMB


Samuel Chia (back row, third from left)

“I’d like for children to always keep an open mind and make the best out of any situation. Who knows, you’ll be able to learn a skill you never expected to learn and make new friends you’ll never expect to meet. The only person inhibiting you is yourself.

I always had a keen interest in military vehicles, and always hung around the garage just observing and enquiring about anything that piqued my interest. This caught the attention of some of the garage’s officers and they begun taking me in, explaining the vehicles in detail while teaching me certain nuances of vehicle operations. This eventually led to my participation in an overseas exercise in New Zealand, where I was attached to an actual armoured vehicle during my time there. Funnily enough, this wasn’t even part of my initial assignment after being posted out. 

Life isn’t as straightforward as many people describe it to be. Opportunities are everywhere if you remain open-minded.” – Samuel Chia, CPL, 24 Singapore Artillery


“If there’s anything I’d like kids to learn from my journey, it is to listen.

People who know me know that I’m a huge introvert – I don’t necessarily hate working with people, but it’s incredibly exhausting. The beginning of my NS life was tedious, having to meet new and strange faces while adapting to new environment. Of course, it was also physically gruelling, with trainings and outfield expeditions that came with painfully heavy field packs and intrusive SAR21’s. Everyone had their own pains they wanted to deal with in their own unique way. Conflicts were inevitable. 

Diversity comes with a whole myriad of life stories, struggles and adversities that lay hidden and uncovered. Listen with compassion and without judgement, and you’ll gain access to a whole trove of hidden stories that will help you reflect and ultimately, grow as a person.” – Huang Mao Han, 3SG, 701SIR MSC, CQMS


“To me, the saying “army turns you into a man” isn’t about one’s physical ability nor combat prowess, but his willingness to protect his family and his country. I remember fondly our military war cries during road marches, where we would go “how you ever wondered, why must we serve?” I love my family and I wouldn’t want harm to ever come close to them. 

I want my son to learn to love his country, and to defend it not for himself, but for his family. I like my national anthem, and I would love to continue singing it until I grow old, and I would like for my son to continue singing it when he himself grows old. Just like the war cry goes, “because we love our land, and we want it to be free, to be free, yeah.” – Ling Jun Sheng, CPL, 3 DA BN


There are only two types of people in Singapore: Those who enjoyed National Service (NS), and those who didn’t – but all will agree it was a memorable time. In this series, we speak with NSmen who share their most memorable experiences during National Service.

In appreciation of our NSmen as we commemorate 55 Years of National Service (NS55), servicemen can enjoy over 180 exclusive NS55 deals. More info on the deals here: www.safra.sg/membership/ns55-recognition-package-singapore/ns55-deals

Share your favourite NS memories with us at magnsman@sph.com.sg!

Want more articles like this, and other lifestyle content right in your inbox? Sign up for the eNSman Newsletter – you don’t need to be a SAFRA member to subscribe – and never miss another story!

Main photo: Singapore Press Holdings