The transition from a full-time civilian to a full-time soldier brings about many changes to our lives, from the clothes we put on our backs to the way we style our hair or even the food we eat.
But for us, 4-eyed folk, there’s one additional thing that needs to be done!
Changing our binoculars into one that meets the requirement of National Service.
Well, if you’re here, you probably know that already and more than likely, are just looking up answers to questions that you might have, such as “What are the exact glasses requirements?” or “Can I claim the money used for making glasses specifically for NS?“.
Having been in your position before, allow me to share with you my experience and what I’ve learnt from my 2 years of NS!
What are the requirements for wearing glasses in NS?
The glasses requirements can be broken down into multiple features.
Starting with the most obvious feature of all, your glasses have to be black or dark-coloured! As stated by CMPB (pictured below), only dark-coloured plastic frames are allowed for training and this holds true, whether you’re in BMT or in unit.
For me, my unit called for us to wear black up till we ORD-ed so we didn’t have much of a choice. Although definitely by left, some of us would sometimes just wear our non-black glasses if we did forget to bring our black ones into camp.
For my glasses folk out there, you know what I’m talking about.
Your glasses frame should be rectangular in shape and circular or round frames are usually not allowed. The reasoning behind this, as I was told in BMT, was to ensure a level of standardization between all the recruits.
Another important thing to note is that your frame should be fully framed and not half framed!
The material of your frame should be plastic and metal frames are not allowed as stated by CMPB.
My company (Orion coy) wasn’t so strict about it, so during BMT, I did have some platoon mates who sneaked by with their metal frames.
However their metal frames did really look like their plastic counterparts, so if you weren’t holding or staring at it long & hard enough – you were none the wiser.
Whatever the case, I would say that I do feel that having a plastic frame is a tad bit better since it’s basically cheaper. There is definitely a risk of dropping and breaking them in certain highkey activities – outfield, BIC, SIT test, etc. – or during more intense workouts such as combat circuits.
And from my experience of wearing both, I do also feel that plastic glasses tend to sit slightly more securely as compared to their metal counterparts.
#4 Transition lenses
Transition lenses are not allowed, although I was never actually told a reason why.
If I had to guess, I would think that it also has to do with standardization amongst all – as most people probably wouldn’t be too open to paying more for them.
Am I required to wear black glasses even after BMT?
You should still expect to be required to wear black glasses post-BMT, although it is also slightly influenced by where you are posted to!
If you’re posted to Command School, then yes, do expect to have the same requirements as BMT during your time there.
You can find out more about life in SCS here.
If you’re posted to a Unit, it depends on how strict your vocation is. Certain vocations aren’t as strict so your supervisors might not care if you wear glasses that don’t meet the requirements.
BMT and life in your unit posting can be rather different, and here are some things you may want to take note of.
Do most optical shops sell these kinds of specs?
These black frame plastic glasses are definitely not hard to come by at all!
The majority of the optical shops I’ve passed by all over Singapore carry them, so it really won’t take you too much effort to hunt for one.
Most opticians also automatically know what you are looking for if you just tell them that you’re going to enlist and need a pair of black specs.
Are glasses from OWNDAYS allowed?
Glasses from OWNDAYS are perfectly fine, as long as they meet the requirements I mentioned above.
For example, this pair from OWNDAYS look very similar to the pair that I had during my NS time.
As such, so long as the glasses fit the general description of a “Rectangular black frame that looks plastic“, you should be good to go.
Can I claim the glasses that I bought for NS?
Fortunately, you will be able to make a claim, i.e. get your money back, if you had to purchase brand new specs just for NS.
This claim reaches a maximum of $60 per financial year, where it is split as:
- A $40 claim for your 1st glasses purchase of the financial year.
- A $20 for the subsequent purchase in the same financial year.
Do take note that you will not be able to claim the full $60 in 1 purchase.
As such, the maximum “subsidy” that you can receive for the purchase of a single pair of specs is $40, which is still a quite substantial discount if you don’t intend on getting anything fancy!
Applicable period for claims
It is important for you to know that claims can only be made for specs made AFTER enlistment, as stated here (pictured below).
This does mean that if you made them before enlisting, then, unfortunately, you will not be able to make a claim.
Your claim also has to be done within one month of purchase to be valid!
So usually how it goes is that, during confinement week, it is perfectly fine for you to wear your normal specs if you don’t have the black-framed ones.
As such, you don’t have to worry about rushing to get your brand new dashing black frames before you enlist!
The entire process is pretty simple actually!
The most essential things to have are the receipt and invoice with your full name and information (to verify that the specs do belong to you). The receipt should also be dated after your enlistment.
Next, assuming you’re in BMT, approach either your platoon sergeants (PS) or platoon commander (PC) for a claims form to fill up. If you’re in unit, likewise, just approach your platoon commanders and request for a claims form from your S1 branch.
From there, just submit the form with your receipt and invoice attached. The money will be credited directly back into your bank account.
As I’ve seen claims take from just 2 weeks to process to over 2-3 months to process, I really can’t give you a good ballpark of when you should expect to receive your money.
Pro tip: Remember to photocopy your receipt and invoice! I’ve heard stories of some unfortunate souls who had their claim form, receipt and invoice go missing, resulting in them never getting their claim – as they didn’t have an additional copy of the receipt and invoice for resubmission.
Even though those were probably one-off instances, it doesn’t hurt to play it safe!
I would say that you definitely don’t have to rush to get your black specs before enlisting! If you are unsure if your spectacles fit the requirements, it is perfectly fine for you to wear them during your confinement week.
From there, just clarify with your sergeants if you need to get a new pair or if your current one will suffice. With that, hopefully, I’ve been able to answer any questions that you might have had.
All the best with your enlistment!
You can check out the full BMT schedule here.
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