KEESLER AIR FORCE, Miss. – The Recruiter Assistance Program is a way Airmen can both give back to the Air Force in a unique setting and see family essentially for free, and it’s allowed to all active-duty Airmen. Having Airmen bring the Air Force story to their hometown by assisting the local recruiter can be vital.
“I want you to see your families as much as possible while you’re home,” said Tech. Sgt. Matthew Mourousas, 349th Recruiting Squadron. “All I ask is for you to chat with the recruits and help me when I call for you. This program is about going out and finding the best and the brightest, becoming a recruiter and really giving back to the Air Force.”
While technically on call for the duration of RAP, hours in the office are up to the recruiter’s discretion. Those on RAP may answer phones, make calls to discuss the benefits of the Air Force, help organize the office, participate in question and answer sessions of their Air Force experiences with high school and college students or even do school visits to hold demonstrations and present the Air Force to domestic audiences.
“It sounds adventurous,” was the only response I got from one local St. Joseph, Missouri recruit, while others seemed nervous about Basic Military Training dining hall procedures and physical training requirements. Having real Air Force stories to tell, even as a junior enlisted member, transforms interest into full attention.
“Sometimes recruits don’t know what to ask, so you’ll just have to have fun with it and they will too,” said Mourousas.
Air Force Instruction 36-3003 states that all active duty Air Force members (including technical training and OTS graduates) are eligible to assist non-prior service and officer accession recruiters, but not everyone will be selected for RAP as applications must be approved by commanders, forwarded to the recruiting squadron, and then approved by the recruiting squadron.
Airmen can apply for up to 12 days of non-chargeable leave for RAP and can take chargeable leave in conjunction with RAP. The actual number of days Airmen can assist recruiters and whether they take chargeable leave beyond the 12 days depends on each Airman’s preference, the recruiter’s need for assistance, and the Airman’s supervisor’s willingness to approve the leave.
“Typically we just get Airmen fresh out of technical training,” Mourousas. “But, I’ll take any help I can get, and the recruits love to hear from anyone on active duty. It’s nice to have variety.”
RAP is usually done in an area where Airmen have recently lived or have established ties to the community, but Airmen may apply to participate in RAP anywhere they believe they can be of assistance to recruiters.
As with ordinary leave, there is no reimbursement for travel for RAP. Also, as with ordinary leave, there are no travel days — the method of travel is up to the participant, and days spent traveling to and from the recruiter’s location are chargeable leave. At the end of the 12 days, Recruiters give Airmen a participation verification letter signed by their recruiting squadron commanders. Airmen returning to their assigned duty station should make copies of their letters for their records and submit letter to proper authority for reimbursement of leave.
Getting a spot on a recruiter’s calendar will take a little work, as technical training students on their way to permanent station are understood to have first rights, but the glimpse of a special duty and free time home are rewards enough for any active-duty member.
“It’s actually pretty fun talking to the recruits,” said Airman 1st Class Austin Cox, RAP participant. “I want to warn them about everything I wasn’t prepared for. Getting to see my family and getting a taste of recruiting is a double bonus. It kind of makes me want to become a recruiter, too.”