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Patrick hosts AETC special duty briefing

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Have you ever wondered what it would be like to bring someone into the Air Force? Or train them once they've been accepted?

More than 30 Senior Airmen and NCOs learned how Monday when a team from Air Education and Training Command visited Patrick Air Force Base to talk about how to apply for special enlisted duty positions such as recruiter or Military Training Instructor.

"It was very helpful," said Staff Sgt. Michelle Bernard, a member of the 45th Medical Support Squadron who is planning to become a recruiter. "I would definitely recommend this briefing to anyone considering a special duty. They gave a lot of good information."

Master Sgt. Craig Ploessl from Air Force Recruiting Service Headquarters spoke on what to expect as an Air Force recruiter.

With 1,088 full-time recruiting offices spread throughout the country, when you are a recruiter, "you're on your own," said Sergeant Ploessl, "you have to be able to do your job without anyone looking."

One of the most difficult aspects of the job is the long hours, as Sergeant Ploessl described having to work 14-16 hour days visiting schools and colleges, holding interviews with potential recruits and so on. "Your responsibility is to find the best America has to offer," he said. "That means knowing not just Air Force benefits and policies, but also those of local colleges and other services. If a recruit says that he's being offered a large enlistment bonus to enter the Army over the Air Force, the recruiter has to be ready to respond to that."

The job is not without its perks though, as Sergeant Ploessl mentioned the extra $450 in Special Duty Pay and the free gym memberships (recruiters must stay in shape even when they might have to live up to 170 miles from the nearest military installation). However, he stressed to the audience to not apply just for the money, saying "you want to go out there and make a difference."

The next presenter was Staff Sgt. Scott Grubaugh of the 737th Training Support Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, who talked about being a Military Training Instructor. After the recruiter gets people into the Air Force, while they're in training "you're the person with them constantly," said Sergeant Graubaugh.

Like recruiters, an MTI puts in long days, with the added onus of spending most of the day on your feet. For the first two weeks of training, he said, you're up from 4 a.m. to 9 p.m. and you might march your flight a total of five miles, yelling all the way. MTIs must also know proper facing movements, how to break down a weapon and how to teach them to an 18 year-old who has probably never seen them before.

The final week, on the other hand, is the best, because you get to see the fruit of your labors, especially when there's a trainee who couldn't do anything at the beginning, said Sergeant Graubaugh. "You rode that kid, and now he's [graduating]. He feels good, you feel good."