Commentary

May 23, 2014

FTAC: Bridging gaps for new Airmen

Airman 1st Class Rachel Loftis
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — Everyday new Airmen graduate from technical school and move on to their first duty station. In doing so, the beginning weeks of a first-term Airman’s transition to the operational Air Force can be quite unclear and stressful.

As a first-term Airman when I arrived here, I didn’t know anything the base had to offer. That changed when I went to the First-Term Airman Course. Thanks to the course my transition from training to operational was eased.

FTAC is an informative five-day course all first-term Airmen must attend. It is held once or twice a month. The course contains approximately 30 briefings spread out over the week.

Being a first-term Airman, FTAC can seem quite overwhelming.

However, that is not the case. Throughout the course, Airmen gain useful knowledge to take control of their career. We were briefed by subject matter experts who taught us a wide variety of things, such as all of the benefits, safety related items and services available to first-term Airmen and our families.

Thirty-five Airmen from Creech and Nellis AFBs attended the five-day FTAC course at the Professional Development Center. Each day the FTAC course was dedicated to a strict schedule, yet we still received several opportunities to interact with one another.
The one class that spoke to me the most was the eight hours of resiliency training. It was a full day dedicated to talking about everyday stressors we go through and how to deal with them. Daily stressors are getting mad at things in life you can’t control like someone cutting you off on the highway. That one always irritates me.

The instructors taught us when we get caught up in events we can’t control we tend to forget to think about all of the good things that happened throughout the day. Instead of thinking about the one person who cut you off, start thinking about all of those people on the highway who are utilizing safe driving habits. Safe driving habits, like the lady who let you safely get over to exit or the guy who let you change lanes when the two lane road turned into a one lane road because of construction.

Another activity I enjoyed was when we broke up into small groups which were called companies. We gave these companies names and wrote out descriptions of courtesies we thought should be displayed on an everyday basis. Some of those being, saying ma’am/sir, being honest, supportive, and just being a wingman to one another.

Throughout the course, we were able to learn about benefits we didn’t know were available to us. Some of those being the Overseas Volunteer Program, the Servicemen’s Group Life Insurance, career assistance advisors and the Airman and Family Readiness Center’s Personal Financial Management classes for budgeting.

FTAC instructors briefed us about the dangers associated with living in the Metropolitan Las Vegas area which include, drinking and driving, drugs, gambling and underage drinking. They also invited the Nevada Highway Patrol to come and speak about some of the incidents they have seen, and how to exhibit safe driving habits.

With all of the interacting activities throughout the week we were able to learn about each other as Airmen. FTAC is an experience for Airmen to learn from Officers, SNCOs, NCOs and civilian personnel how to pave the way for their current and future careers. It is a course used to bridge the gap between new Airmen and the more experienced military members.

Attending FTAC has helped clear the fog on many things I did not understand. It is an informative tool, and I will continue to use what I’ve learned throughout the rest of my career.




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