Military News

Friday, March 20, 2015

FTAC: An Airman's first experience

by Airman 1st Class Sahara L. Fales
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs

3/20/2015 - MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- When an Airman arrives to their first base, starting over again can be frightening. Being placed in an environment where they don't know anyone or what to expect can make it difficult to focus on learning the job.

Pushing through approximately 700 Airmen a year, the first term Airman's course was designed to help alleviate nervousness and guide Airmen through their transition from technical training to the operational Air Force.

"When I first took over, the first term Airman's course was seen as massive in-processing that gave units their Airmen back ready to go to work," said Master Sgt. Daniel Mueller, 5th Force Support Squadron career assistance advisor.

During the five day course, Airmen receive briefings from organizations such as Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, Equal Opportunity and the Airman and Family Readiness Center, where they learn about the rules of the base, resiliency, budgeting, and the many opportunities the base has to offer.

"What I love the most about FTAC is just realizing the various options you have on base," said Airman 1st Class Sheena Subido, 5th Security Forces Squadron member. "Everything from volunteering to the free and inexpensive things provided to single Airmen. There's always something to do."

Knowledge of the base and assistance with in-processing is still the number one intent of FTAC, Mueller said.

However, another main goal is to put Airmen at their first base with other Airmen who are in a similar situation and have them make connections with people from different jobs.

"It was nice getting to meet someone other than the Airmen from tech school," Subido said. "I met maintainers, crew chiefs, and medical and services personnel; I had no idea there were so many other jobs here in Minot."

For Mueller, who attended the course approximately 15 years ago, the most important thing is the long term friendships that help get you through anything.

"They're going to go through the hardships of being at their first base, learning their job and being away from home, but they will produce these long-lasting friendships," Mueller said. "I still talk to at least five people I met when I went through FTAC at Canon Air Force Base, New Mexico."

Aside from the first-term Airmen, a senior airman is assigned to the course as well to hold the position of FTAC team lead. This provides them the opportunity to lead the class and interact with the Airmen.

"There are few opportunities for Airmen on an installation to do something similar to a special duty assignment," Mueller said. "Through this they get leadership experience; meet the commanders and command chiefs; and send e-mails base-wide to every first sergeant. These skills are invaluable."

The current FTAC team lead, Senior Airman Elijah Perryman, has been at Minot for over two years. With his usual job being an Electro Mechanical Team technician at the 91st Missile Maintenance Squadron, this opportunity to try something different has allowed him to receive experience he normally wouldn't get.

"Through this experience I've learned to better myself from a professional standpoint," Perryman said.

Although he has already taken FTAC, Perryman said he is still able to benefit from being involved with the course. Most importantly, he gained knowledge that he can pass on to his peers.

"Things change over time, so every day I learn something new," Perryman said. "Next time someone asks me a question I can give them information or point them to the right people."

Aside from the plethora of pamphlets and informative briefings, Airmen now have a face to put with a name for anything they may need in the future.

"I hope after they get all of their briefings, if they take nothing else from this, I want these Airmen to recognize that the Air Force has invested time and money to ensure they have resources for anything that they could need," Mueller said. "It's all about them knowing that they joined an organization that truly cares about their well-being."

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