“Pack light,” is the only advice I received from my recruiter prior to shipping off to basic training.
As I stood at attention for the first time and looked around at the frightened faces of my fellow recruits I wondered if they were just as clueless as me.
Basic military training is a pressure cooker where you try desperately to navigate the chasm between your former civilian life and the reality of your new military life.
You spend your days cramming your brain full of military knowledge as your new best friend, the military training instructor, not so gently asks why you didn’t know the answer they sought.
Taking a step into the unknown is never easy. For Tech. Sgt. Sabrina Yeghiazarian, flight chief, 926th Wing Development and Training Flight, the goal of student flight is to give the reserve recruits, the future Airmen of the 926th WG, the tools they need to make the transition from civilian to Airman smoother — to make their basic training journey just a little less scary.
“When I first joined, I was so anxious and scared because I was going into something so new,” Yeghiazarian said. “This program gives the members an opportunity to better prepare themselves with not only BMT, but being a functioning member in today’s operational Air Force.”
The Development and Training Flight, or student flight, trainees spend every drill weekend mastering Air Force knowledge and skills. They learn reporting statements, ranks and grades, the Airman’s Creed, the Air Force Song, Core Values and more. The trainees also get to hear from wing leadership and various wing agencies.
Yeghiazarian also invites recent BMT graduates to share their firsthand experience with student flight trainees.
“I have found this really beneficial, because all of those Airmen were sitting in the trainee’s position just months ago,” Yeghiazarian said. “Having these newly graduated Airmen come back and speak to the flight gives them the opportunity to ask questions and better understand expectations.”
The student flight program has resulted in an increase of trainees being selected for leadership roles in basic training, according to Yeghiazarian. However, the benefits go beyond making basic training less scary.
Recent BMT graduate, Airman Laura Geserick, 926th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron administration, said it creates a connection within the wing for new Airmen.
“I have somebody who has already been here, so I feel like I know somebody. If I don’t have anybody to talk to, I at least have her,” Geserick said.
Yeghiazarian said seeing Airmen step back into her office wearing the same uniform as her makes it one of the most rewarding jobs she has had.
“I have been given a chance to make a difference in the future of our wing and our Air Force, and it is not only one of the best opportunities I have ever had, but one that I don’t take for granted,” Yeghiazarian said.