COPING WITH NATIONAL SERVICE TRAINING
 
Tay-Koay, S. L., National Technology University, Teo, C. H., Ministry for Defence, Singapore
 
The objectives of this study were to find out the factors that were related to the ability of the National Servicemen's ability to cope with Basic Military Training, both in terms of psychological well being as well as in physical performance. The sample consisted of 200 recruits who underwent the enhance Basic Military Training course. Measurements were made at three points of time; on the first day of enlistment, during the high training stress period, and during the low training stress period. The Esyenck Personality Scale, ways of coping Questionnaire, General Health Questionnaire, Personal Problems CheckList and perceived Social Support Questionnaire were used. Results of the Individual Physical Proficiency Test and pass rates were obtained from the trainer. The data was analysed using correctional analysis, one-way and multivariate analysis of variance, independent t-test and multiple regression analysis. The results suggest that personality factors, the use of specific coping strategies and deterioration in health are predictors of psychological distress. In particular, recruits who are high in neuroticism, who use less planful problem solving, and who develop medical problems during the training period are likely to report more psychological distress, distress, including anxiety, depression, somatic complaints and social dysfunction. Personality factors such as neuroticism, introversion and impulsiveness may predispose individuals to use certain maladaptive coping strategies. In both civilian stressful events and during the 10 weeks of Basic Military Training, recruits who had higher levels of neuroticism used significantly more escape-avoidance and self-controlling of emotions, introverted recruits use significantly less planful problem solving and impulsive recruits used significantly more escape avoidance. The paper discussed the implications of these on how health professionals and trainers in the Singapore Arm Forces can address the problem of stress in the military.