TL;DR – Your life your choice?
Speaking on hindsight as a 34-year-old Singaporean male who has completed National Service and several cycles of reservist, despite the tough times and rough moments, NS is still overall a very positive experience. I would call it as the turning point in one’s life where boys become men. Even for those who didn’t like their NS days as much would probably still say that they had the opportunity to make some new friends or that is where they learned the importance of responsibility. Or freedom.
Despite the silver lining, many still feel that National Service can be somewhat an issue for them in some ways. From the most obvious of having their freedom taken away to the fact that they will end up “behind” girls of the same age in terms of studies and career, there is bound to be some trade-off somewhere.
With the recent chatter about Ben Davis’s request for deferment, my friends have also been talking about the way NS is done in Singapore. One of the most interesting ideas that came out was the possibility to allow Singaporeans to choose their own enlistment date as long as it’s between the age of 18 to 35.
What do you think?
I’ve heard from many people with different views regarding this.
Personally, I feel that giving this option does not really change things much. The feeling of having your freedom taken away will not change and there is no way of “catching” up with the ladies regardless of when you enlist. It’s just a matter of you losing the “head start” in terms of studies or work experience. And if you choose to serve mid-career, that actually sounds way more disruptive, especially since a lot can happen within two years. Things might just change so much even if you return to the same industry or even the exact same role in the same company.
If you choose to serve at an older age, you might have more responsibilities in life, for example with family commitments, work responsibilities, or even simple relationship issues. Your body would also be older and your mentality while more mature, might end up making it more difficult for you to take the hardship of training. Especially if you are a manager at work but end up enlisting into the army as a recruit aka to brutally put it, the lowest lifeform in the hierarchy.
However, I do not entirely disagree that offering such an option could possibly work since everyone has their own preference, but I would surely advise anyone to choose to serve NS beyond their early twenties. I am still one of those who believe that it is better to get this duty out of the way at a young age and allow yourself to focus on your family and career at the later stages of your life.
What about you?