During this period of around 18-20 years old or so, guys lose their freedom to do what they want. Get screamed at daily to do drills, marching, rifle cleaning, area cleaning, etc etc... Many of us think that this is a total waste of time during the experience.
Guys will stay in camp for 3 months of basic military service learning the ropes of an infantry, getting the basic knowledge of how to handle a rifle, run, shoot, camouflage, camp, and other simple stuff. We are only allowed to return home on weekends. (This is already a lot better than in Korea where guys are not allowed out for the entire 2 years.) Life wasn't really tough. Just a loss of freedom. Some physical conditioning and getting used to doing drills for the sake of it. Thinking back that really is what NS is about. Drills to hone familiarity and muscle memory so that we know what to do in war time.
After the basic training, we all get posted to various units or under go further training as officers or specialists (Sergeants). After further training, we will eventually get posted out as well to join the other troops as infantry, armour element, artillery, combat engineers, medics etc etc. The remaining 1 + years will be spent in the unit getting familiar with the role that the unit plays in terms of battle and how the unit will gel with other units.
Generally, life was easy. But many people just do not enjoy it due to the loss of freedom and the valuelessness of what they do. Drills, exercise, menial tasks, just going through the motion of what the superiors instruct.
Thinking back and knowing what I know about muscle memory now, it makes some sense that we keep repeating our drills. So that we know how to react in times when there is no time to think.
Strange thing is most guys come out of army calmer and less playful and more matured. Also, after a few years, many males will actually think back fondly at the memories created in NS. It was actually a life with low/no stress and that we actually did not need to care about anything. There was a place to stay, food to eat and free medical as all military personnel get free medical coverage. Living in the corporate world seemed more complicated. We suddenly needed more money than necessary. Needed to show off our cars, watches, bags, belts, size of our houses. And we start to complain of our lives and how miserable we are working or how bad our bosses are or how little money we earn. Then every once in awhile, the military calls us back again for a few weeks. We call this reservist where we go back into the military to refresh what we have learnt. For these few weeks, the pointlessness of all these drills come back to us and we suddenly realise how good we have it living a civilian life. That we have choices and we can do things which we want to do and that we do not need to listen to the superiors and do meaningless* drills.
(* The drills are not meaningless in truth. That's all it is to gain experience. Short of going to war or war gaming, Drills are all that we can get to practice what needs to be done. It just seems stupid and meaningless when we do them. Even war gaming is a drill in itself.)
There's really quite a lot of experiences which we can take back from NS. Such as interacting with people, handling people from all walks of life as we would meet people from different income backgrounds or education backgrounds and suddenly the world seems so much bigger and we seem so much smaller. This is evident when males go to University or out to work as they seem to take things more in stride and do not get as fussed up compared to females. (This is my own opinion.) Guys just seem to take things easier as they look back to their experience in NS and realise, that nothing can really go wrong and it's not really the end of the world no matter how bad the situation is. Relax, life goes on....
But I think there is one final point I would like to put up which is that maybe we can take the simplicity of NS and combine it with the freedom we have a civilians. All we ever needed in NS was a bed, food, medical, when we extend that to our lives, we just need enough for our families as well. Then what more after that? Why not relax and enjoy other things? Explore something else which might interest you. Leave the job which is causing you stress and high blood pressure. Take up a less stressful job, live life to the fullest, be happy every day, every hour, every second. You have choices. Well most of us do. To earn enough to invest and gain a passive income, live on enough for ourselves and our family, and spend the rest of our lives doing anything we want. This includes finding other more interesting job opportunities which might give you more satisfaction and happiness.
To all the guys out there. Do you have more fond memories of your NS days? Females will never understand and when mothers see their sons go into NS, they are all up in arms to criticize that NS should be abolished. There has been a lot of flak on NS and Singaporeans protecting a country of foreigners. I'm choosing to avoid this topic. I'm not talking about who we are protecting or what we are protecting. But rather what memories you have in NS and are there things which you have learnt which you can bring into your daily life. If you remove the foreign policy from your thoughts now, think back on your NS days. Did you feel that it was a necessary evil? Do you appreciate the memories which you have created?
I'll try to leave the politics out of my blog as best as possible. As I've mentioned before, I don't like to talk about things which I do not have much control over. Foreign policy being one of them.