Preparing Future Airmen For Excellence
When it comes to producing excellent Airmen, Grissom Air Reserve Base doesn’t believe in waiting until basic training.
Grissom’s development and training flight program takes new recruits, sometimes up to a year before they ship to basic military training, and teaches them skills that will help them in their journey to become Airmen.
“In 2008, the attrition rate for new trainees joining the Air Force Reserve was 9.4 percent,” said Master Sgt. Maurice Everett, 434th Force Support Squadron D&TF manager. “Since the Reserve-wide introduction of the D&TF, that rate has dropped to 3.4 percent.
For the Air Force Reserve, sending trainees to basic training prepared isn’t simply a matter of pride, said Everett.
“For every trainee, we’re spending an average of $61,900,” he said. “If you take 100 trainees, and 6 or 7 of them are failing, that’s hundreds of thousands of dollars you’re essentially wasting.”
Every trainee that Grissom has recruited between 2017 and 2018 has successfully completed basic training, marking Grissom’s D&TF program as one of the most successful in the Air Force Reserve.
One such success story is Airman Gabe Mota, 434th Communications Squadron client systems technician. Mota, who spent 11 months in the D&TF program, said the classes set his expectations for basic training and helped him mentally prepare.
“The marching and studying helped to some extent at basic training, but the biggest benefit was getting into the right mindset before going,” said Mota. “We got to talk to Airmen who had recently returned from training, and nothing helped me more than that.”
In addition to asking returning Airmen to come speak to his class, Everett surveys every new Airman on their training experience compared to his class.
“Each Airman fills out my survey, and I take those responses very seriously,” said Everett. “I’m constantly making adjustments and fine-tuning the program.”
One aspect of what makes Grissom’s D&TF program stand out above the rest is its excellent recruiters, said Everett.
“It all starts with the recruiters, and I can’t say enough about what an outstanding job they’ve done of sending us the best people possible,” he said. “Our trainees are passionate about getting in shape, learning about their Air Force career, and gaining the tools to succeed.
“They’ve taken an aggressive stance to doing those things, and that makes a ton of difference,” added Everett.
For Mota, D&TF also gave him an invaluable opportunity to begin integrating into the Grissom family.
“People from different parts of the base would come talk to us every month, and they’d tell us what they do and how they fit into the big picture,” said Mota. “We also had a chance to job shadow where we’d be working after training, and it was reassuring to meet the people we’d be working with.”
Despite the program’s outstanding record, Everett says he’s not even close to done making improvements.
“We’re not there yet,” he said. “It might look like we’re there, but I want to give these recruits every advantage possible to produce the best possible Airmen.”
“I’d like to get a weapon in their hands before they ship out, so their first time holding a rifle isn’t in BMT,” he continued. “Teaching them how to disassemble and clean the rifle would give them another head start on skills they’ll need later on.”
Everett also expressed a desire to familiarize recruits with some of the gear they’ll be using in BMT, such as gas masks and chemical suits.
“I want to consider every possible edge I can give them,” said Everett. “These young Airmen are the future of our organization, and that’s what makes this so important.”