Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Long term support for injured serviceman Jason Chee: Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen

By Imelda Saad, Channel NewsAsia, 6 Jan 2013

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen on January 4 visited naval serviceman Jason Chee, who was involved in a horrific accident last month. 

He gave the assurance that Mr Chee and his father would be taken care of in the long term.

Dr Ng revealed that doctors from the Singapore Armed Forces have also been in touch with specialists in the US military, who have experience in rehabilitating veterans with lost limbs.

Dr Ng said the aim is to get Mr Chee up and about and be independent, as far as possible.

He posted the comments on the Singapore Armed Forces Facebook page, Cyber Pioneer.

Dr Ng said the Defence Ministry will pay for all hospitalisation and rehabilitation expenses.

"I reassured his dad not to worry about the hospitalisation and rehabilitation expenses - we would pay for all of this. I thanked his doctors and nurses who have been working round the clock to save Jason's life," said Dr Ng.

He added: "Jason's dad, a retiree, said that his wish was to be able to live his remaining days together with Jason, without having to struggle. I understood what he was worried about. His wife had passed on two years ago and Jason was their only child. How would Jason and he take care of each other?

"I reassured (the older) Mr Chee that he should not be worried that our support would wane after Jason left the hospital and went home. The SAF and Singaporeans would be there for him and Jason in the long term."

The minister said he has been receiving updates about the 29-year-old's condition, twice daily.

Dr Ng added it was a moment of "relief and joy" to be able to shake Mr Chee's hand.

He said he conveyed to the serviceman, how Singaporeans from all walks of life - including those within the SAF, his Shunfu community and his friends' buddies - were rooting for his recovery.

He also offered words of encouragement, praising Mr Chee for his fighting spirit and urged him to press on.

The naval serviceman lost his legs and left arm in an accident on board the warship RSS Endeavour when he got caught between the ship's motorised winch and a rope.

As of early this month, public donations for Mr Chee have exceeded S$370,000.

Dr Ng said he is touched by the spontaneous outpouring of donations, sympathy and support by the public. 

He added this generous spirit will encourage SAF soldiers and lift their morale as they carry out their duty of defending Singapore.

"We will pray for his recovery. MINDEF and the SAF will be there, giving our full support for the long term. I have been deeply touched by the spontaneous outpouring of donations, sympathy and support by the public. This generous spirit will encourage our SAF soldiers and lift their morale as they carry out their duty of defending Singapore," Dr Ng said.

SAF fund for disabled servicemen
Mindef will build up fund and public can contribute too, says Ng Eng Hen
By Priscilla Goy, The Straits Times, 26 Jan 2013

THE Defence Ministry (Mindef) has started a Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Care Fund for severely disabled servicemen.

Mindef will build up this fund and members of the public can also contribute, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen in a post on the ministry's cyberpioneer Facebook page yesterday.

The fund already has $1 million in public contributions, including $950,000 donated by the Lee Foundation.

The post was written after Dr Ng visited injured navy serviceman Jason Chee yesterday.

Mr Chee, who holds the rank of Military Expert 2, lost both his legs and his left arm in an accident aboard a warship on Dec 10 last year. Many Singaporeans had asked Dr Ng about long-term support to help severely disabled servicemen get back to independent living, he said in the post.

Dr Ng also mentioned how he had said in Parliament this month, in response to a question, that Mindef's compensation amounts for servicemen are "significantly higher" than what civilians get for the same injury.

"But I decided we can and should do more," he said.

"Indeed, we send our men and women in uniform regularly to high-risk areas like Afghanistan and off the coast of Somalia. We pray that it will never happen but we must prepare for incidents where many may be injured.

"The harsh reality is that risks come with every soldier's duties. Mindef has therefore decided to start an SAF Care Fund for severely disabled servicemen."

This fund will be in addition to Mindef's existing compensation and welfare schemes, he said.

Dr Ng also gave an update on Mr Chee, who celebrates his 30th birthday today, saying he is "out of immediate danger" and has been transferred to the general ward. Mr Chee's complexion was no longer sallow and he could speak long sentences without being breathless, Dr Ng said.

"Jason, according to (his doctors and nurses), has endeared himself to all the staff through his cheerfulness and optimism despite his severe accident. He knows the individual names of the medical team taking care of him," Dr Ng said.

The $1 million in the fund is a "good start and a strong show of support for our servicemen who risk life and injury to defend Singapore", he added.

Dr Ng has also personally contributed to the fund. While he did not say how much he donated, he said the amount is one that he hopes will "encourage others to do the same".

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