Bracing new Airmen for success
By Airman 1st Class Ryan Lackey
/ Published December 20, 2016
FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. --
New Airmen push through the rigors of basic training, learn skills via extensive technical training and then travel to their first duty station. At the cusp of finally beginning their new Air Force career, there is but one final hurdle: the First Term Airmen Course.
FTAC is an Air Force introduction class for all Airmen to attend upon arriving at their first duty station.
“FTAC consolidates everything a newly assigned first-term Airman must go through when they arrive on base,” said Master Sgt. Lance Hasz, 92nd Force Support Squadron career assistance advisor. “It’s designed to streamline the processing all the separate agencies require while simultaneously preventing those units from being inundated with new Airmen going to them individually.”
The course offers more than a neat stack of in-processing forms to work through. FTAC gives newcomers a chance to meet other Airmen like them, an inside knowledge of how to fully enjoy what the base and local area has to offer, the base command structure and who Airmen can go to for help.
“It was nice to meet people new to the base like me at FTAC, as I felt less alone whenever I saw them around base afterwards,” said Airman 1st Class Sydney Silvester, 92nd Operations Support Squadron weather forecaster. “Since Airmen come across command personnel so often at Fairchild, it was nice to meet some of the leadership at FTAC and put a face to their names so early on in my time here.”
The course is a vital “coming of age” talk with typically younger Airmen who are on their own for the first time.
“The Airmen coming through FTAC haven’t had to adapt to a new base before, nor know what real Air Force life is, so they don’t typically know what to do,” said Staff Sgt. Jonathan Allessie, 92nd Force Support Squadron Airmen Leadership School instructor. “Here they get a chance to meet and speak with critical people on base who will help them move in the right direction.”
Airmen are provided with tips on how to manage finances, how to balance work and play, relationship advice for married couples, coping with parenthood and much more.
Some Airmen might throw away their money on luxuries or simply overspending, often because they never sat down to discuss their finances with a knowledgeable person, so FTAC helps raise the fiscal awareness Airmen need, Allessie said.
FTAC instructors said they enjoy the opportunity to impart wisdom onto new Airmen and dispel any misconceptions they may have had after basic and technical training. Airmen are encouraged to ask about anything that concerns them to ease the transition to their new home and workplace.
“The idea is to help them avoid some hard lessons that may occur from a general lack of knowledge. We as instructors get to tell them our experiences so they can learn from our mistakes,” Hasz said. "It’s a rare opportunity to get into the heads of new Airmen and shed light on what they can expect to encounter in daily military life."
“With FTAC we get to clear up all of the things the recruiter didn’t get to tell them about, such as thinking they should internalize everything and not talk about their feelings,” Allessie said. “After FTAC, they know there are people here to assist them with any stress happening in their lives and they don’t have to hold it all in to be a good Airman.”
The overriding goal of the course is to set up new Airmen for career success at their critically important first assignment.
“FTAC is not all about the briefs,” Allessie said. “It’s about getting in that one snippet of information that will help you for the rest of your career.”