Reservist teaches Special Tactics Airmen the 'write' stuff

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Shannon Mann
The concept of Total Force was evident in an unusual, but effective way recently when an Airman’s civilian expertise and reserve status combined to help an active-duty unit’s needs.

The commander of the 21st Special Tactics Squadron, an Air Force combat controller unit stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., recently sought help for his office staff, who were spending too much time correcting simple grammar, punctuation and usage errors in reports and forms submitted by squadron members.

“Every email and memo sent outside the unit is a reflection of our professionalism,” said 21st STS Commander Lt. Col. Stewart Parker. “We just don't have time in the front office to be the squadron's spelling and grammar check. Additionally, we owe it to our people to teach them how to write effectively.”

Air Force Reserve Major Erin Karl was brought in to teach a class on English usage and punctuation. As a Reservist she works as a public affairs officer at Air Combat Command headquarters, but in her civilian life she’s the publisher of an award-winning curriculum that teaches grammar, punctuation and usage. Her company’s Facebook page has more than 140,000 people who follow it for the daily lessons and funny memes that assist with common usage and punctuation errors.

“I was thrilled to be given this opportunity to help out. There was no way in just an hour or two that I could have taught grammar, but that’s not really what was needed,” said Karl. “The purpose of learning grammar is to apply that knowledge to usage and punctuation rules. Over the years I’ve devised a number of shortcuts, tricks and tips to help. That’s what I taught here.”

The class covered a wide range of issues including commonly misused words, comma usage and sentence structure. Many of those who attended said they found the class to be helpful.

“The class was extremely beneficial in covering the basics,” said Chief Master Sgt. Kristopher Kendall. “It was a great introduction.”
Karl says she’d love to see even more integration of civilian skills from reservists.

“Every year we fill out an online form that catalogs our civilian expertise and employment,” said Karl. “There is a treasure trove of knowledge reservists have on the civilian side that is not often used when in uniform. It was so exciting for me to be able to have my two worlds come together like this. I hope I get to do it again!”