JOINT BASE SAN ANTONI-LACKLAND, Texas –
For recruits heading to Basic Military Training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, connecting with a Military Training Instructor online prior to their departure is proving to help ease the transition from civilian to Airman.
“Ask an MTI” is a BMT-led program managed by Tech. Sgt. Sarah Bento, MTI and the 737th Training Group Chief of Protocol, connects recruits, recruiters, and instructors online to open lines of communication to better prepare the Air and Space Force’s next generation of trainees and Guardians for the rigors of training.
“The program gives recruits and recruiters real-time information about BMT and the many changes,” said Staff Sgt. Ruth Elliott, who has been an MTI for 2 1/2 years.
Elliott is one of several MTIs who are volunteering their time to engage with recruits and recruiters online in a relaxed forum that encourages open discussion.
The program began as a grass-roots effort in 2021, but Bento said that over the past several months, the program has increased significantly in terms of participants and all 25 recruiting squadrons across the country are now participating in a formalized program.
Bento, who collaborates with the Air Force Recruiting Service, said recruiters also benefit. She has received feedback from recruiters that they now feel more confident providing current information about BMT [to the recruits].
“They benefit from hearing the answers to questions submitted by other recruits on topics they didn’t even think to ask about,” she added.
The call starts with giving MTIs and recruiters a 30-minute window to talk amongst themselves and to share relevant information that benefits both. Following, recruits will join in for an hour-long discussion.
Tech. Sgt. Lacie Tadych is an enlisted accessions recruiter who recruits out of Bowling Green, Ky. She is the 369th Recruiting Group’s lead for the program and stated that she has seen a drop in the Delayed Entry Program discharge rate since the program began.
She described that those in the DEP who are seniors are most impacted, “They are in the DEP for a much longer period and these calls have kept them motivated and excited. They constantly tell me that they can’t wait for the next one.”
“Ask an MTI” is held 25 times per quarter, once for each enlisted recruiting squadron. On average, there are more than 55 recruits on each call.
According to Bento, recruits will ask questions that range from what to bring to training, to what food is served in the DFAC to how they should prepare for BMT.
Since the program began, Tadych said the feedback received from recruits has been positive.
“The applicants feel more at ease and prepared. There has also been quite a bit of feedback from the recruiters regarding how much they are learning as well,” she added. “This is helping us prepare our applicants better and is all around improving the communication between the recruiters and MTIs.