11 ways that National Service affects your civilian life

Men change after they go through NS (National Service).

Some of these changes are good and get nods of approval from their mothers and girlfriends.

Some are inexplicable and get raised eyebrows instead.



1) You refer to all rooms as ‘bunk’


Your place of refuge and rest – except during Stand By Bed (Picture Source)


Your army bunk was your bedroom for 2 years or more. It’s no wonder that you refer to all bedrooms as bunks after that.



2) You use army terms in your day-to-day life


(Picture Source)


Colleague lazing around? You say, “Wah, he damn LOBO ah. Sibei chao keng.

Subordinate trying to mislead you or hide the truth in his report? You say, “You trying to smoke me is it??”

Boss asks you to survey a site for an event? You say, “Ok boss, I’ll go recee.”



3) You measure distance in “klicks”



Believe it or not, we actually use ‘kilometers’ in civilian life. Klicks is a term that likely originated from the Vietnam War, where soldiers would indicate movements of 1,000 meters by lifting the rifle and rewinding the gas regulator with a movement of the thumb, resulting in an audible “click.” They then probably added the ‘k’ to the spelling to relate to the official metric measurement. You military-junkies can read more about this here.



4) You sing marching songs in your head (or maybe out loud) whenever you jog or walk long distances 




“Left-right-left-right-left-right-LEFT! Training to be soldiers… fight for our la-and… once in our life…”


5) You wolf down your meals in record time


Chill, bro… chill


During BMT (Basic Military Training), recruits are only given 20mins or less to finish their meals. Though there’s no longer a need to eat quickly, you still finish your food in less than half the time normal civilians take – much to the frustration of your dining companions.



6) You use black tape to fix everything



Given enough tape and creativity, nearly every broken thing can be repaired with black tape. Except maybe a broken heart. ='(


7) You alphabetise with “Alpha, Bravo, Charlie”



Where normal civilians use country names (America, Brazil, China, etc) to communicate alphabets over the phone, you use the NATO Phonetic Alphabet that you learned during radio comms in NS instead.



8) You master the art of falling asleep anywhere



During NS, there tends to be pockets of time during training where there’s nothing to do but wait. Smart soldiers use this time to snatch a few winks – such as whilst waiting for your turn during firing range and lull periods during outfield. An extremely useful skill to have in the outside world.


9) Whenever you hear a sudden loud noise, you feel the urge to shout “CONTACTED!”



… followed by proning on the ground and taking cover. A reaction that has been painstakingly hammered into you by your Sergeant from day one. Because if you didn’t do that in actual war times, you died!



10) You attain an encyclopedic level of expletives


Go in good boy, come out gangsta


Sheltered, well-brought up boys tend to come out of the Army with an arsenal of new vocabulary to express themselves with – thanks to all the hokkien vulgarities flying around camp.


11) You carry valuable life lessons and skills that cannot be learned anywhere else



On a more serious note, all guys – even those who proclaim to hate NS – will agree that their experience in the Army taught them things that they would never have learned as civilians – such as discipline from waking up at 5.30am everyday for 5BX, endurance from outfield exercises, confidence in your own physical, mental and leadership abilities, and independence from being away from family and their familiar surroundings.

And the best part of it all? You gain lifelong friendships with your army buddies whom you continue to recount the old days with – long into your adult years.


(Cover picture source)