Keeping aircraft ready to fly requires a lot of support on the ground. Although the technicians who service the aircraft are important, the Air Force also relies on technicians to service the ground vehicles that are needed for mission success. Whether the vehicles are needed to build a new landing strip or refuel aircraft prior to take-off, the responsibility for keeping these ground vehicles operational falls to enlisted personnel with either the Vehicle and Vehicle Equipment Maintenance, VVEM, or Special Vehicle Maintenance specialties.
Vehicle and Vehicular Equipment Maintenance Specialist
Air Force personnel with this rating repair and maintain a variety of ground vehicles, including dump trucks, forklifts, tractors, graders, cranes and vehicles used to tow or service aircraft. VVEM specialists work on both diesel and gasoline engines, as well as the other components of the vehicles, such as electrical systems, brakes, transmissions and heating and cooling systems. Specialists are trained to perform routine maintenance as well as repairs. After completing basic, which lasts about two months, candidates attend technical training at Port Hueneme, California, for 79 days to learn the skills needed for the job.
Special Vehicle Maintenance Specialist
Special vehicle maintenance specialists provide maintenance and repair for the ground vehicles used to support flying missions directly, including crash and fire vehicles and refueling trucks. Personnel with this rating become experts in diesel and gasoline engines, hydraulic systems, brakes, electrical systems, suspensions and other components of the vehicles assigned to them. Candidates first complete basic military training of approximately two months, and then attend technical training at Port Hueneme, California, which lasts between 79 and 86 days for this specialty.
To enlist in the Air Force, applicants must be between the ages of 17 and 27. They must be legal, permanent residents of the United States or U.S. citizens. Candidates must be high school graduates or have earned a GED and 15 or more college credits. All candidates must pass a physical exam, psychological screening and background check. In addition, prior to receiving an enlistment contract, applicants must take the ASVAB, a series of tests that measure candidates’ knowledge of mathematics and language. The tests help to predict whether candidates have the aptitude to succeed in a chosen job.
Military pay is standardized and based on time in service and rank. Although only a recruiter can advise on initial rank on a case-by-case basis, most enlistees start as an airman with a pay grade of E-1. As of 2013, base pay for the first four months of service is $1,402.20 monthly for an E-1. Pay increases to $1,516.20 per month after four months. Upon promotion to a pay grade E-2, base pay increases to $1,699.80 per month. Housing and food is furnished for military personnel who live on base, and if they live off base, they receive payments for these expenses. The amount of these allowances varies by rank, family size and location. For enlisted personnel, the food allowance ranges from $352.27 to $1,100 per month. The monthly housing allowance is $487.20 without dependents and $649.20 with dependents. Service members may also qualify for additional special pays or allowances.