Commentary: my first writing assignment

VHV

Commentary by Pfc. Brandy Mort, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Recent Defense Information School graduate, Pfc. Brandy Mort, is assigned to the 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detchment as a print journalist.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Jan. 3, 2011) — An immense amount of whispers filled the room as the first group of students piled into the room. Some of the students knew which booths they wanted to go to first, but many were shocked when they saw one booth in particular – The Kentucky National Guard booth.

Some students held on to their best friend’s arm, while others slowly walked up to the booth. What they didn’t know was I knew exactly what they were feeling. I was just as nervous as they were, because this was my very first mission with the unit.

My unit – the  133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment based in Frankfort Ky., – along with vendors ranging from state Universities to local businesses, manned information booths for the Kentucky High School Journalism Conference Nov. 9, in Louisville, Ky.

Staff Sgt. Gina Vaile, readiness non-Commissioned officer in charge, Staff Sgt. Michael Oliver, state public affairs NCOIC, Mr. J.C. Newton, recruiting and retention marketing director, and I, Pvt. Brandy Mort, a public affairs specialist, were on a mission to inform more than 500 young Kentucky journalists about the Kentucky National Guard and Army public affairs.

The KHSJC hosted students ranging from 7th to 12th graders who show an interest in journalism or broadcast journalism.  At first, the students thought the booth was set up as a way to recruit them to join the Army, with the stereotypical notion of dressing in fatigues and doing grunt work.

I’ll admit that’s what I thought when I was their age. I was in my Army Combat Uniform, while Vaile and Oliver were in the Army Service Uniform.

I felt as though the students were probably scared of me, because I was wearing the uniform they were used to seeing Soldiers wear. As time went by, and I discussed our unit, the students realized that they could be a journalist or a broadcaster as a Soldier.

The booth fascinated some students who were eager to join the military, some who weren’t positive how they were going to pay for college and some who liked the aesthetics of our booth. Interestingly, some of the teachers were just as interested in the unit.  One teacher commented, after her class left, that she didn’t know what we were telling the students, but almost all of them were interested in joining.

I remember seeing the Army booth when I was a senior in high school. I was one of the first students to go up to them and demonstrate my push-up ability. On the other hand, I also remember being a shy person when it came down to talking to them. I feel, in a strange way, like I related to these students. To some of the students who seemed really tense, I explained that I’m a new Soldier and that this was my first mission with the MPAD.

I handed out pamphlets that gave a description on what my unit offers, as well as contact information. I also handed out copies of the Bluegrass Guard, and really pushed the Kentucky National Guard’s  100 percent tuition benefits.

National Guard lanyards were a big hit with the students, who added flair from other vendors as the day progressed. Videos produced by the MPAD got rave reviews from those who had no idea about the day in the life of a Soldier.

As the day progressed my nervousness disappeared and so did the students’. Some of the students even came back a second or third time to learn more about what we had to offer.

When the day ended, I had time to reflect on what Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training taught me. BCT taught me not to be scared when faced with any kind of mission as a Soldier. AIT taught me how to do the things I need to know how to do as a public affairs specialist. I feel as though BCT and AIT helped me to be confident as well as succeed in my first mission.

Informing the students that were already interested in journalism about our unit, was a great first mission.  I walked out with more information and gained a better understanding of my MPAD unit.

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