Once in a while, we read of cases of nasty accidents in the SAF, or of young NSmen dying of heart failure during training. Although this is extremely rare, nevertheless we parents still worry like crazy when we send our children to NS. Those of us who are religious pray for their safety from such accidents.
While such cases tend to be dramatic and attract lots of media attention, I feel that the danger from picking up harmful habits is much greater. Today, there was a front page report in the papers about 2 young men who were infected with the deadly HIV when they were doing NS. This reminds me of a case I encountered back in the 1970’s when I was a platoon commander in 30SCE in Mandai. One day, one of my men came to me for permission to go to Middle Road Hospital for treatment, twice a week (or something like that). At that time, Middle Road Hospital (hope I got the name correct) specialized in sexually transmitted diseases.
“You have VD is it?” I asked. “Yes”, he replied somewhat shyly. But to my horror, I detected a hint of pride in his voice. Apparently, my men have been organising tours to Hatyai for their R&R after they completed their BMT. Some of these young, immature kids were proud that they finally achieved manhood, and even have the evidence to prove it.
Another sad statistic to share with my readers. At the beginning of their 6-month course under me, there were only 2 smokers in the whole platoon of nearly 30 men. By the end of the course, there were only 2 non-smokers left, myself being one of them.
We know that the SAF is well-aware of this problem and is taking proactive measures to address it. I hope they succeed. But for today’s NSmen, I believe, the dangers may have increased considerably since my time.
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