FTAC - Getting Airmen off to a good start

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Isaura Walker
  • Andersen Career Assistance Advisor
In the "old days" reporting to a first Air Force duty station following technical training could be confusing for first-term airmen, and frustrating to supervisors. 

The new airmen would report to their duty section, then would "leave" for various "in-processing" appointments such as finance (to complete their travel vouchers), the military personnel flight, the base medical clinic, legal office, etc. 

Supervisors, did you know that there are many briefings required either by federal law, or military regulations for first-term Airmen reporting to their first duty assignment? 

Unfortunately, in the past, these briefings and appointments were scheduled separately, meaning new Airmen were in and out of their duty sections for their first four to six months after arrival. It's hard for a supervisor to set up an "on the job training program," just to have their Airmen continually yanked out of the section for a mandatory briefing/appointment at a critical time of their training. Enter the First Term Airman Center program. 

FTAC is designed to aid all first-duty-stationed Airmen with their transition from a systematic and regimented environment into a hands-on employment of their skills, knowledge and training gained from basic training and technical school. 

"FTAC is a 'one-stop-shop-program' that greatly benefits the Airmen and allows them to focus on their job without being tagged for various appointments," said Staff Sgt. Curt Mitchell, FTAC noncommissioned officer in charge at Andersen Air Force Base. "Before there was an FTAC program, Airmen were missing many of the mandatory appointments and as a result administrative action was taken," said Mitchell. "Many NCOs today will tell you that it could take anywhere from four to six months to complete all of the essential briefings. Many briefings in those days were much longer and required you to be away from duty for a full day. One of the best features about FTAC is the fact the agencies come to the Airmen as opposed to the Airmen going to the agencies. As a result, no one misses an appointment." 

The Airmen aren't the only ones who benefit from the program. 

"Transitioning Airmen out of the technical training mode and preparing them for Air Force mission readiness is important", said Staff Sgt. Nathalie Ivory, FTAC team leader at Andersen. 

"During the two-week program, we help the Airmen resolve any issues they may have before they start their jobs, so they can have their minds set on the mission and getting the job done," she said. "That includes getting them settled into a new way of life."

No question about it, when Airmen first arrive in FTAC, most are in a state of confusion. When they leave, they leave with a greater sense of confidence. Upon completion of the program, the Airmen have improved skills in professionalism, military bearing, and customs and courtesies. 

As a result, FTAC graduates walk away with a better understanding of the rules and regulations in which we live by day-to-day in the military. 

So the next time you hear someone say, "Why do my Airmen have to be in FTAC for their first weeks on station?" you can assure them that in the end, it pays to get our Airmen off to a good start - and that start is offered only at the First Term Airman's Center.