Has it really been ten reservist cycles and 13 years since I shaved my hair and reported to Tekong as a wide-eyed, hapless recruit? I’ve been asking myself that a lot because I cannot believe that I have finished my National Service obligations.
It’s very hard to articulate the feelings I have about something I used to dread but now feel quite sad to part. To ease myself into it, I’ll start by talking about the financial aspects of finishing one’s NS obligations, since this is a personal finance blog after all.
Reduced NSman tax relief
Thankfully, even after MR (placed in MINDEF Reserve), I am still eligible for NSman Tax Relief. As a puny Corporal First Class not holding any key appointments, I can claim $1,500 of tax relief every year just for having served National Service. It’s not much, but it’s something every year at least.
If I served the year prior to the tax year of assessment, I get an additional $1,500 of tax relief. This is obviously not going to be applicable to me any longer as I wouldn’t have more in-camp trainings in future. Sigh.
No more IPPT incentives
People have a love-hate relationship with this one. On one hand, there are swathes of Singaporean men who struggle with this and end up having to go through the hassle of remedial training which is incredibly taxing and disruptive to their lives. On the other, there are people who see this as an easy $300 or $500 if they can score silver or gold respectively.
Personnel who have MR’d will no longer be eligible for IPPT; a blessing or a curse depending on which camp of people you fall under.
No more eMart credits
eMart credits have always been a great way to buy living essentials – stuff you can also use outside of your military training. Intrepid individuals have even tried to monetise this. No more new credits would be given once you MR. In fact, any existing ones will expire the moment you end the work year of your last in-camp training.
Damn it. Do I actually have to use cash to buy towels and running shoes now?
NS HOME Award!
Totally looking forward for this to be credited into my CPF: a cool $3,000 into my OA and $2,000 in Medisave.
The last time I got this, it was just $3,000 split between OA, SA, and Medisave, and months after that, it was enhanced to the current $3,000 + $2,000. I also didn’t get any when I finished my 2 years because this was only introduced afterwards.
Ugh what luck, but fine, I’ll take my $5,000 this time, thank you very much.
Getting paid to take a break from work…
This is probably what I’m going to miss the most. I like my work, mostly, but taking a military-sponsored sabbatical can be quite enjoyable sometimes. While my first few in-camp trainings were really intense, the last few call-ups have been rather chill, even bordering on sedentary.
I’m going to miss all those canteen breaks.
… And then working in camp
When I was doing insurance full-time in the past, it was even a chance to prospect my fellow unit mates, and I even managed to sell a policy or two. This time, credit cards are a much easier sell, especially when $350 and free AirPods are involved (smooth way to plug these promos huh 😉).
In fact, it’s a great chance to network with people you see regularly on an annual basis, and I can only imagine how many business deals have been struck by bored reservist men in the army bunks.
So long SAF, and thanks for all the eMart credits!
Money stuff aside, I think I have really grown over the course of my National Service. I can’t credit everything to NS, but it’s been such a recurring part of my life that has helped mould me into the person I am today. The 2 years spent as a full-time National serviceman was eventful, but the dozen or so call-ups over the next 11 years to follow were equally an experience.
Many things in army (and life) don’t go your way, and as a lowly-ranked cog in a huge machine, there’s really little you can do but to suck thumb, as sergeants, officers, and men alike would say. Such a journey has tempered me as a person, and as I have come to discover in life, things can be really terrible and awful while you’re going through it, but you really do remember only the fond memories when you look back.
Goodbye, SAF. You and I never got along all that well, and I am far from the ideal Singaporean son, but I am glad to have completed this journey in every small way I could muster.
CFC Wee is booking out for the last time (￣^￣)ゞ