International Women's Day: Celebrating Those In The SAF Volunteer Corps
STORY: Sim Ding En
08 March 2021
Since its inauguration in 2015, the Singapore Armed Forces Volunteer Corps has seen Singaporeans and PRs (like these individuals here) pledge their commitment and loyalty to the SAF and the defence of our Little Red Dot. | Photos: (clockwise from top left) Facebook/@FitnessMantraSingapore, Instagram/@kellylatimer and @brendaenggggg, Facebook/@oursingaporearmy and Instagram/@eileeeen_leong
"When you take things for granted, the things you are granted get taken."
We never want this to happen, especially when it comes to the peace and security of Singapore. That is why this International Women's Day (8 March), we want to thank and celebrate the women in the Singapore Armed Forces Volunteer Corps (SAFVC).
Inaugurated in 2015, the SAFVC is, according to the SAFVC website, "a uniformed volunteer scheme introduced to provide more Singaporeans and Permanent Residents with the opportunity to contribute to national defence, show support for National Service and deepen their understanding and ownership of national defence".
The SAFVC kicked off with an inaugural intake of 226 volunteers. Today, it has close to 1,000.
"SAFVC is strong today because we stand on the shoulders of giants. Since the establishment of SAFVC in February 2015, our predecessors have built a strong foundation, and instilled a deep sense of belonging in each of us," said COL Cheong Yunn Shaur, Commander SAFVC, in his address to the volunteers during a virtual celebration in February of the corps' 6th anniversary.
Here, some examples of committed volunteers who tell us they're committed to the defence of Singapore without telling us they're committed to the defence of Singapore:
SV1 Kelly Latimer
The TV host and mum made the decision to serve when she renounced her UK citizenship in 2016, and felt a duty to protect her country as a new citizen.
"A lot of people just move here and take for granted the safety and security. Everybody enjoys it but without actually realising what it takes to keep it that way," she says in the video above. "And now that I've got a young family, I want to be able to give back to that, in whatever way, shape or form that I can. And for me, it was giving back through SAFVC."
SV1 Cheng Yingmei
One of the unexpected results of launching the SAFVC was that it started drawing wives of SAF Regulars.
"The SAF Volunteer Corps is not only attracting new citizens and PRs but wives of Regulars too, who want to experience some of what their husbands do daily," wrote Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen in a Facebook post dated 6 Mar 2019.
"Wives of Regulars joining as SVs was unexpected when we launched the programme but it’s a pleasant and positive surprise. I hope that their common experiences will bring them and their families closer."
One example he cited was SV1 Cheng Yingmei who joined SAF’s second batch of Volunteer Corps in 2016 and now serves on board the Republic of Singapore Navy’s Landing Ships Tank as a Bridge Watchkeeper.
According to the post, her husband 2WO Lim Chee Seng, a naval diver from the Naval Diving Unit, gave her invaluable training tips, from how to best apply camo to shooting well with the SAR 21.
The 29-year-old holds national defence in high regard, and the COVID-19 pandemic presented an opportunity for her to contribute to the nation.
"Everyone of us has a part to play, no matter how small. When COVID-19 first happened, I really wanted to do more, but I wasn't sure where I could come in to play a part," she says in the video above. "So when the SAFVC alert came in to say that there were COVID-19 deployment opportunities I immediately signed up."
SV Julia Chua
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented countless opportunities for everyone in the country to step forward and do their part for the community.
In a Facebook post dated 28 May 2020, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen highlighted SV Julia Chua as an individual who "volunteered with the contact tracing centre to help ensure that those serving their Stay-Home Notice or in quarantine stayed alright".
Scroll to the bottom of the article for more information on the SAFVC.
Like Kelly Latimer, Chintal wanted to give back to "Singapore, the country which has embraced us as citizens and given us more than we could ever dream of". More importantly, she sees her volunteerism as a source of inspiration to her son when it is his time to do national service.
This is her full post:
Some reflections and moment of introspection as I think about my time back in camp.
In 2018, I joined SAFVC SINGAPORE ARMED FORCES (Steadfast Volunteer Corps) to voluteer my service & completed Basic Military Training(BMT) & recently I graduated Qualification training (QT)
As a result :
1. I now have a chance to contribute to Singapore, the country which has embraced us as citizens and given us more than we could ever dream of!
2. Inspire my son to be proud to serve his country for NS when called up.
3. Be part of the loving SAFVC family and contribute till I can.
Inspite of being a Fitness coach myself, there are lot of things that I learnt from my section mates and trainers who were much younger to me.
1) I realised that Resilience is not just about physical or mental strength but also in self awareness, mindfulness, self care, positive relationships & purpose.
2) It's not wrong to ask for help and it's okay to not be good at everything.
3) During BMT I used to get anxious with functional tests and assessments and it was challenging to cope multi-tasking at physical and mental levels altogether but this time I realised I am mentally more resilient than I thought I was. All I need to practice is to be in comepte awareness and acceptance of my capabilities, what I can do and what I can't. Seek help. When I exchanged my strengths & weakness with other mates. Things became much easier.
May I always remain #steadfastandvigilant #steadfastwithpride
SV3 May Tan
There aren't many SV3's in the SAFVC. Yes, even the SAFVC has a ranking system - from SV (Trainee) to SV4 (sibei tok kong). SV3 May Tan, a systems engineer, is one of them.
"Joining the SAFVC also allowed me to gain a deeper insight into NS which my brothers and co-workers have undergone. This further strengthened my resolve, motivating me to serve our nation as much as I could within my own means," she says in a Facebook post by The Singapore Army.
Read the full post here:
Promoted from SV2 to SV3.
SV3 May Tan Zi Shan, a Systems Engineer, marked a significant milestone as part of the SAFVC as she became one of the first few SV3s. When she first enlisted in 2015, her main goal for joining the SAFVC was to contribute back to our nation while she was still able. Looking ahead, this is how SV3 May wanted to carry herself as well." Joining the SAFVC also allowed me to gain a deeper insight into NS which my brothers and co-workers have undergone. This further strengthened my resolve, motivating me to serve our nation as much as I could within my own means."
As an Auxiliary Security Trooper, SV3 May had been deployed to various types of deployments, providing her with a wide range of experiences. "My deployment at Women's Boot Camp was one of my most memorable experience, as I got to work with amazing females regulars and also share my SAFVC-related experiences with the ladies who had joined the boot camp. I was glad that my experiences were able to benefit them, providing them with a better understanding of what NS is about, and what their loved ones had undergone when they served in the SAF."
I want to volunteer!
Do you meet the following criteria?
✅ You are aged between 18 and 45.
✅ You have no NS commitment i.e. you are a Singaporean woman, first-generation PR or new citizen.
✅ You are physically and medically fit and active.
✅ You have a desire to contribute towards the defence of Singapore.
To find out more and to download the SAFVC Application Form, click here.