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Teaching provides learning experience

TYNDALL AFB, Fla. -- Leaving the comfort zone of a current job and learning a new one that holds you responsible for "molding the minds" of new Airmen can be challenging. However, the benefits of a special duties, such as a professional military education instructors, can out weigh those challenges.

"I began looking into special duty assignments because I was ready for a change," said Staff Sgt. Samantha Whitfield, FTAC's newest flight chief.

"I was an ammunitions Airmen for almost eight years, and I wanted to see what other jobs were out there," she said about choosing her first special duty assignment.

"I heard about the FTAC position from my supervisor, so I looked into the job. I thought it would be a really great opportunity to work with new Airmen."

Since becoming an instructor, Sergeant Whitfield has been "schooled" herself on the broad perspective the Air Force offers.

"I have learned that there is so much more to the Air Force than just one job," she said. "It's real easy to get stuck in a job for your whole military career and never realize that your job is just a small piece of this huge puzzle.

"Having worked on the flightline, I am aware that we need to keep planes in the air to win wars. But, working at FTAC has taught me that we need to help our Airmen adjust to this new lifestyle, so they are ready to keep those planes in the air."

"Our goal is to get all our new Airmen trained and ready to work," said Sergeant Whitfield. "For example, rather than a squadron loosing new Airmen to training requirements throughout a six-month period, we get them for two weeks and take care of those requirements here. We also reiterate core values, dress and appearance, and customs and courtesies."

The special duty has proved to be an enjoyable experience thus far for Sergeant Whitfield.

"I like being able to make a positive impact on these Airmen's lives early in their career. Many of the Airmen in my past classes come back to ask me for advice or help with situations, and I love to be there to help," she said. "My goal is to guide them in the right direction so they will become successful Airmen."

Regardless of the many positive experiences Airmen have in a special duty, many are still reluctant to apply for the position. Sergeant Whitfield offers those considering the opportunity some encouraging advice.

"I say, 'go for it.' I love this job," she said. "You hold the key to your own success; therefore, it is your duty to go out and look for jobs that may interest you. The assignment management system on the Air Force Portal has made it simple to apply for special duties. Many of the jobs allow you to apply through the Web site. It is a great way to better yourself and take control of your career."

"I have realized the Air Force has so many jobs to offer me and everyone else," said Sergeant Whitfield. "I look forward to getting trained for another specialty, but for now, I will enjoy this one."