News: U.S. junior enlisted service members better selves, stay relevant
Story by Sgt. Christopher Harper
KABUL, Afghanistan – In the austere environments and extended workdays of the deployed enlisted U.S. service member, the current state of the U.S. armed forces and the public and political appeal to grow the military smaller has not gone unnoticed. Those who desire to stay in the services realize they must be progressive in their approach to their careers.
A dozen enlisted U.S. service members under the guidance of Navy Lt. j.g. Shel Cox spent their free time over the past month at International Security Assistance Force headquarters collectively studying to raise their individual general technical scores.
The Fundamental Academic Skills Training Class they organized culminated Mar. 15 in the taking of the Armed Forces Classification Test administered by a proctor from the Army’s Education Center.
“The FAST class is for enlisted folks who took the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test) when they came in and want to re-take it to better their scores to get a better position, qualify for a better job or maybe so they can go to OCS (Officer Candidate School),” said Cox.
Cox was sought out by Army Sgt. Michael Long, an imagery expert at the Combined Joint Inter Operations Center – Afghanistan where they work together, to teach the course because he knew Cox, a University of Phoenix graduate would be qualified to teach the Central Texas College offered FAST Class.
“I’ve taught college level courses so I contacted CTC and they got me approved to teach the FAST class,” said Cox.
The class met three or four times a week for a month, after business hours and on their own time.
“These people worked hard to improve themselves, spending more than 60 hours refreshing and relearning their reading comprehension skills, writing and spelling skills, and math skills,” said Cox. “There was a considerable amount of self-motivation in this group,” he said.
Motivation to continuously improve and show career potential is not lost on Long and other service members who seek professional development.
“It was draining, but I didn’t mind coming in late and studying all of those hours after work,” said Long. “Increasing my GT score and moving forward professionally may be the best way to avoid cutbacks and changes in reenlistment opportunities.”
Cox encourages service members to contact their education officers or their service education centers to learn how to bring the FAST class and other professional development opportunities to their areas of operations.
“Especially now where there’s going to be a lot of cuts in the military, Soldiers, sailors, and airmen want to stay in the military and they want better jobs. The FAST class gives them the opportunity to better themselves for personal and professional development, said Cox.