- The Straits Times
Out of more than 6,000 Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) personnel deployed for overseas operations in the past two decades, only one serviceman was found to have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The incidence of all psychological disorders among SAF personnel on overseas deployment is “not higher” than SAF personnel in general nor is it greater than the incidence among the general population, said Senior Minister of State for Defence Dr Maliki Osman in Parliament on Monday (March 19).
He had been responding to a Parliamentary question posed by Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Dennis Tan who asked about cases of PTSD in servicemen during or after overseas deployment since 1999.
Dr Maliki said that the low rate can be attributed to the selection, pre-deployment training and mental health support system which the Defence Ministry (Mindef) has in place for its servicemen.
“This includes physical preparation, psychological screening, briefs or threat assessments, job descriptions and security procedures as well as avenues available to contact their family members or seek help for personal matters while overseas,” he said.
He added that sufficient IT connections despite being in remote areas such as Iraq and Afghanistan are good and this has allowed SAF personnel to speak to their family members frequently.
Moreover, when these servicemen return to Singapore, they undergo an assessment of their psychological well-being for early intervention by counsellors, psychologists and psychiatrists if necessary.
Compensation for psychiatric or psychological disorders follows that of the overall framework for injuries and disabilities arising from service, he said.
For example, consults and treatments for of affected personnel are fully subsidised at government restructured hospitals, clinics and community hospitals for as long as needed – even after a serviceman’s term of service.
Servicemen whose disorders were due to service by manifested after they left the SAF are also eligible for the same terms of treatment, he added.