Photo above: (Left) Second Sergeant (2nd Sgt) Hari Krishnan, 23. (Right) Major (NS) Edzra Iskandar with his wife, teacher Norlinda Ishnin, daughter Lea and son Eli.
Sunday is SAF Day. Benson Ang meets an India-born man who chooses to do national service and turns from tubby to trim, and a father who served almost 2 months of in-camp training last year, willingly.
He lost almost 40kg doing national service.
And he didn't even have to do it in the first place.
Second Sergeant (2nd Sgt) Hari Krishnan, 23, was born in India, but came here with his parents when he was seven.
For housewife Madam Padmini, 48, NS has been a ticket to health and citizenship for her son.
Before enlisting, 2nd Sgt Hari weighed 110kg. He is now a lean 72kg.
Madam Padmini says her son tried various diets in the past, but would always regain the weight he lost.
"He was always eating KFC and McDonald's," she tells The New Paper on Sunday.
It was only when he entered NS that he slimmed down.
Madam Padmini credits this to the training and healthy food in camp.
Says 2nd Sgt Hari: "I had friends who used to make fun of me because I was a little fat.
"Many felt I wouldn't be able to survive NS because of my weight.
"So I took it as a challenge to show (that) even chubby people can do it."
His parents have always encouraged him to serve NS for all its benefits.
His father, teacher K. Veerasamy, 55, says: "It's a way of giving back to the country.
"The pain is losing two years of his life which he could have spent furthering his studies. But the gain is that he can now have a good education and job here in the future."
Second Sgt Hari became a Singapore citizen in 2005 and is now an infantry specialist and a section commander in the light-strike company of 7SIB.
He says: "As long as I can remember, Singapore has been my home.
"I used to feel left out when my Singaporean friends talked about NS. But not anymore."
Not the only one
Not the only one
He is not the only one committed to NS.
Major (NS) Edzra Iskandar, 42, has been called up by the army more often than the average guy, but the physical education teacher isn't complaining.
Maj (NS) Edzra, who is the son of master potter and Cultural Medallion winner Iskandar Jalil, served almost 60 days of in-camp training last year.
NSmen are typically called up for up to 40 days a year and most are never called up for the full duration.
Maj (NS) Edzra spent the additional days taking up future leadership appointments.
He is now second-in-command of NS unit 806 Singapore Infantry Regiment.
Last year, he attended a Command and Staff Course, which included a six-week residential stint.
This is on top of his normal in-camp training, which was three weeks long.
He tells The New Paper on Sunday: "To lead my men, I must go for training. And I also have to be there for my men when they are in camp."
"It's my responsibility as a commander.
Maj (NS) Edzra, who has a four-year-old son and a six-year-old daughter, maintains that both his employer and family understand his commitment to the nation.
Says his wife, teacher Norlinda Ishnin, 42: "I feel lonely when he's away.
"But I understand we need people to protect the country."
This article was first published in The New Paper .