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Around The Fleet

Women Wanted for RDC Duty

With an increase in job openings for women, RTC needs more female role models

The Navy hasn't been quiet about its need for female Recruit Division Commanders. Since 2010 the Navy has been pushing hard for more women to make their way to Recruit Training Command (RTC) Great Lakes and into leadership positions.


The job is advertised as the number one Sailorization and mentoring shore duty the Navy has to offer. The personal and professional development opportunities are off the charts.

Now, after Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced all military jobs are open to women, it is more critical than ever that female leadership is adequately displayed at a future Sailor's first stop - Boot Camp.

The Navy has made the benefits of being a Recruit Division Commander (RDC) pretty enticing.
* $450 per month Special Duty Assignment Pay
* Additional annual clothing allowance of $220
* Free dry cleaning services while actively training a recruit division
* Opportunity to earn a Master Training Specialist qualification (similar to warfare qualification on shore duty)
* Advancement rate to chief and senior chief close to double the Navy-wide average for advancement, according to the RDC website
* New state-of-the art facilities and equipment
* Per the American Council of Education evaluation, RDCs can earn up to 24 college credits, both upper and lower toward a bachelor's degree
photo collage of a female RDC training recruits at RTC

photo collage of a female RDC training recruits at RTC


It's not just tangible benefits that attract Sailors to serve as RDCs.

"The biggest benefit to me is being able to see the fruits of your labor," said Chief Aviation Ordanceman Cindy O'Brien. "You spend so much time with the recruits that whatever you instill in them, they take. When you actually see them march across the drill deck, it's a really good feeling to see that you are having some impact over the entire Navy ... I think being able to see the product that you're sending out is pretty rewarding. It's really hard, but I think that's what makes it worth it at the end."

There was a consensus among many women stationed at RTC that the job was hard. Long hours, sometimes beginning as early as 4 a.m., and ending as late 10 p.m., are just one of the many challenges.

"To prepare my husband I told him: 'Just imagine I'm on deployment but I get to come home every day,'" O'Brien said.

But most also agree that the challenge is what makes the job so appealing.

"It's easy to juggle three or four people that work for you," said Air Traffic Controlman 1st Class Tesheka Jemmott. "But when you have 88 recruits, there are a lot of moving parts and you have to learn time management and you have to learn different leadership styles because everything doesn't work for everyone."

However, Jemmott said, that feeling of helping recruits accomplish their goals is what motivates her every morning.

"When a lot of them [recruits] come here, they are broken," said Jemmott. "Some of them come here and they question themselves, 'is this really what I want to do?' And you basically turn it around for them and you show them, once you make it out of boot camp, all of things you can accomplish and all of the benefits that the Navy has for you."
photo collage of female RDC training recruits at RTC

photo collage of female RDC training recruits at RTC


A lot is expected of Sailors before they can become RDCs. Applicants must meet a slew of requirements:
* Able to lead physical fitness training on a daily basis
* Outstanding appearance in uniform
* Warfare qualified (Waivers may be granted on a case by case basis)
* Articulate and professional
* PO2s must have six years time in service (TIS), two years time in rate (TIR) prior to getting orders (no exceptions)
* Outstanding leadership and imaginative problem-solving skills
* No non-judicial punishments (NJP) or any evaluation mark below 3.0 in past 36 months (no exceptions)
* Must have passed most recent physical fitness assessment (PFA) and be with in current height/weight standards (no exceptions)
* Must have passed most current physical readiness test (PRT) with a 'good low' or better and have participated in the 1.5 mile run.

For Senior Chief Logistics Specialist Kayon Davis, the struggle to become an RDC was worth it.

"It's been a little challenging, but it's also very rewarding," said Davis. "It's been my most rewarding tour thus far because I get to see them [recruits] as they get off the bus as civilians and I get to see them marching down the drill deck as Sailors."

"It's a lot more involved than I thought it would be," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Zelia Vazquez. "I don't think I ever understood what my RDC did until I came here. It's so much more behind the scenes that they do that the recruits never see; it's a lot."

But Vazquez admitted that when you watch your first group of recruits graduate, it is an amazing feeling.

"I cried that day," said Vazquez. "They [recruits] come up to you and they see you and they tell you at the end, you made such a difference in certain things, the little things that you do. There is really nothing you can say other than it's my job but they actually thank you for it."
photo collage of female RDC training recruits at RTC

photo collage of female RDC training recruits at RTC


RDCs push five 8-week classes through a year and then go on "hold" for a year when they do another job at the station that doesn't require so much of their time - like a break. It is during this time that many are able to complete their degrees and other personal projects. Then the final year RDC's go back to pushing recruits.

Finding a work-life balance seems to be the biggest turn off for women when it comes to becoming an RDC, with many wondering when they will have time for family.

It's not more challenging being an RDC female than a male, said Davis.

"It is challenging [for everyone] to balance family and work, so of course you're looking for child care and all those issues, but those are issues you'd be dealing with anywhere else in the fleet as well," said Davis.

There is a child development center (CDC) located on station, but the hours do not cover the lengthy days worked by RDCs.

Davis said Sailors may have to look for other options where childcare is concerned.

This has been my most rewarding tour. I love the challenge. The benefits outweigh by far any of the challenges we face here."
-LSCS Kayon Davis


Jemmott, who is a single mother, has found support through the petty officer association.

"It's easy to network with the other petty officers, so when I have to stand a watch or have to work long hours I can just ask some of my shipmates to watch my son," she said.

With a historical promotion rate of almost twice that of the Navy's average as well as special duty assignment pay (SDAP) and post-tour choice of coast, RTC may just be what Vazques called, 'The Navy's Best Kept Secret.'

If you have any questions about becoming a RDC contact the Shore Special Program Detailer (PERS-4010D) at DSN: 882-3855/COMM: 901-874-3855.