337th RS helps recruits grow brighter futures

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Brian Rash, 337th Recruiting Squadron recruiter, right, speaks to James Lock, a recruit, left, during a Delayed Entry Program (DEP) call at Dillon Park in Sumter, S.C., April 11, 2017. DEP members attend calls monthly and are briefed on what they can expect during Basic Military Training and as Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Brian Rash, 337th Recruiting Squadron recruiter, right, speaks to James Lock, a recruit, left, during a Delayed Entry Program (DEP) call at Dillon Park in Sumter, S.C., April 11, 2017. DEP members attend calls monthly and are briefed on what they can expect during Basic Military Training and as Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Brian Rash, 337th Recruiting Squadron recruiter, speaks to TaeQuan Crump, a recruit, in a recruiting office at Sumter, S.C., April 14, 2017. Rash helps potential Airmen by facilitating their medical and academic evaluations for enlistment into the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Brian Rash, 337th Recruiting Squadron recruiter, speaks to TaeQuan Crump, a recruit, in a recruiting office at Sumter, S.C., April 14, 2017. Rash helps potential Airmen by facilitating their medical and academic evaluations for enlistment into the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

U.S. Air Force career brochures are displayed on an Air Force recruiter’s desk in a recruiting office at Sumter, S.C., April 14, 2017. The brochures provide information to potential Airmen about specific requirements for different career fields and what each field does regularly. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

U.S. Air Force career brochures are displayed on an Air Force recruiter’s desk in a recruiting office at Sumter, S.C., April 14, 2017. The brochures provide information to potential Airmen about specific requirements for different career fields and what each field does regularly. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Adrian McCoy, 20th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal flight journeyman, answers questions from high school students about his job during a tour at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., April 21, 2017. One way recruiters from the 337th Recruiting Squadron help potential Airmen learn about the Air Force is by introducing them to service men and women who share their personal knowledge. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Adrian McCoy, 20th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal flight journeyman, answers questions from high school students about his job during a tour at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., April 21, 2017. One way recruiters from the 337th Recruiting Squadron help potential Airmen learn about the Air Force is by introducing them to service men and women who share their personal knowledge. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, is known to many as the “Gateway to the Air Force,” but the enlisted Airman’s journey begins long before they arrive there for basic military training.

Often, it begins with a decision and a trip to the local Air Force recruiting office.

Recruiters from the 337th Recruiting Squadron fill many Air Force recruiting offices in North and South Carolina.

Whether meeting individuals in the office or during community engagement activities, Staff Sgt. Brian Rash, 337th RS recruiter, said he works to find the most highly qualified and most motivated candidates who want to join the U.S. Air Force.

When working with their recruiters, the candidates begin the process of enlisting in the Air Force and choose a career. For individuals who qualify, there is an average of three months between their first meeting with a 337th RS recruiter and the day they leave for initial training.

During the 2016 fiscal year, approximately 45 recruiters from the squadron sent almost 1,500 potential Airmen to basic military training. So far this fiscal year, they have sent nearly 800.

While reaching out to potential candidates, recruiters may encounter challenges with applicants.

“The biggest problem we face with trying to get people in is overcoming things they have done to themselves; law violations, tattoos and even (scoring low on) the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test,” said Rash.

To overcome these situations, recruiters may offer recommendations such as encouraging the person to apply at a later date, removing or covering tattoos, or studying and retaking the ASVAB.

Tech. Sgt. Steven Morris, 337th RS recruiter, said some of the recruits he meets live in unfortunate situations, but by guiding them during their entry into the military, he is helping them gain a brighter future.

Morris said there are a lot of people who do not realize where they are going when they sign a contract to come into the Air Force. He has seen where some of them are coming from and knows the opportunities they will be afforded when they join. They do not know it yet, but the differences between their lives before enlisting and after will be like night and day.

While 337th RS recruiters work to meet current Air Force manning needs, they are not the only military members interested individuals turn to for information.

“When it comes to recruiting, the person sitting in this office or out in the school is not the only recruiter you have,” said Rash. “It’s everybody that is in uniform …. I think it’s a big role everybody needs to play to help out.”

For many Airmen, their recruiters were the first individuals to influence their military careers, but for some 337th RS recruiters, they see it as a way to invest in others and help them gain a brighter future.