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INVERNESS - When LaToia Briggs graduated from high school, her father handed her a phone number — of the Air Force recruiter.
“My dad was in the Army, and he always told us we needed to try to get a scholarship and if we didn’t we’d have to go into the military and have the military pay for school,” said the 24-year-old senior airman and the new recruiter in town.
“I didn’t think he was serious until I graduated and didn’t have a scholarship,” she said. “But he laid everything out and said, ‘How are you going to do this and this and this?’ He was right. I couldn’t unless I joined, and it was the best decision I ever made.”
She left for basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas on her 19th birthday.
“That was the worst birthday I ever had,” she said. “Who ships off to basic on their birthday? Basic training was stressful, and you just really want to go home when you’re there, but now when I talk to my friends, we laugh about it, how we used to be so scared.”
She added that as stressful as basic training is, it’s not so difficult that most people can’t do it.
Currently, Briggs is on special duty as a recruiter, a temporary (three to four years) assignment from her regular job as security police. She arrived in Citrus County in May.
Briggs said she chose the security police job because she’s a fan of cop shows on TV and pictured herself as “one of those cool women cops” kicking down doors, arresting people and running to emergencies.
“My dad tried to tell me it’s not like that, but I didn’t want him telling me what not to do, and that only made me really want to do it,” she said, laughing.
Because she’s young and comes from a small town in Mississippi, Briggs said she can identify with the people who come to see her to find out about an Air Force career.
“Most of the appointments I have are with recent 2012 and 2013 high school graduates,” she said. “They don’t know what to do and don’t want to stay in Citrus County. They come in and ask me about jobs in the Air Force. I can tell them about the various jobs, but I can’t hire them for a (specific) job; I hire for the Air Force.”
Briggs said she plans on making the Air Force her career, either staying on as a recruiter, going back to being a cop or changing to another career field.
“I like the Air Force,” she said. “I really like the benefits, and I also like the recognition I get. People stop me all the time to say ‘Thank you for serving our country.’ I like that.”
Call Senior Airman Briggs at 352-637-3707.
Contact Chronicle reporter Nancy Kennedy at 352-564-2927 or firstname.lastname@example.org.