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FTAC: aiding in vital transitions

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Marianique Santos
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
The First Term Airman Course is a program provided by the Career Assistance Advisor office that is designed to transition Airmen smoothly from training to a mission-oriented environment.

The FTAC program at Andersen is an opportunity to get acclimated to living in a new location, to learn about volunteer opportunities and career advancement, to get a chance to communicate up close with base leadership and be handed the tools to have a successful Air Force career.

"FTAC is designed to help the Airmen fully understand their roles and responsibilities," said Master Sgt. Carmelito Sanga, 36th Force Support Squadron career assistance advisor. "We try to reach out to them early so they can plan for their careers. Sometimes a lot of our Airmen come here with the perception that, 'I am done with training and I can just relax.' Here, they are refocused and reminded that this is not just a job, it's a career, and in order to be successful in your career, you have to establish milestones."

In every milestone, however, Sergeant Sanga acknowledges that taking the appropriate initializing steps is vital.

"Our main focus is to in-process, but there are key topics that we try to hit home," said Sergeant Sanga. "We just conducted a survey. Some of the critical topics are sexual assault, sexual awareness and alcohol. Those are the topics where the FTAC participants are usually the appropriate demographic to inform."

"Usually, if mistakes along these lines are made, they are career threatening for young Airmen," he continued. "In FTAC, we just want to make sure that it doesn't happen. The Air Force has a zero-tolerance policy for most of these violations. An Airman who falls into the trap is an Airman lost."

Staff Sgt. Steven Pruitt, 36 FSS FTAC noncommissioned officer in charge, echoes this by emphasizing the importance of guidance, and therefore strengthening culture of professional Airmen.

"With the current downsizing, it's always about the mission and getting the job done," said Sergeant Pruitt. "Supervisors sometimes tend to tell their Airmen to do and finish something right away rather than sit down and teach their Airmen how to do things correctly."

The instructor's dedication is not only reflected on his active involvement in the FTAC as briefers, but they are also advocates in keeping it a two-week program.

"Our CAA program is under review right now, especially FTAC," Sergeant Sanga said. "The program is under review for a cut. My argument for trying to keep it a ten-day, as opposed to a five-day program. We make in-processing a one-stop-shop. Everything gets done here. I can take care of more than 20 people from different units at a time. Here, a ten-day investment is about two months time in the workplace."

"As I've told my Airmen on the very first day, my main focus is to professionalize them and let them know that this is the real deal," said Sergeant Pruitt. "You can only drive on and emphasizes that point so much if you only have a week."

Sergeant Pruitt and Sergeant Sanga are always trying to make improvements to the FTAC program.

"We're still looking for ideas to make this more innovative," Sergeant Sanga said. "We're looking at adding programs that will help the Airmen adjust, and be more accustomed to local culture."

Aside from improving the program, Sergeant Sanga has worked hard to have an aggressive marketing approach to make sure Airmen are aware and can take advantage of FTAC and other CAA services.

"I try to go out to every unit, communicate with the Andersen Top Three and the first sergeants to have a good outreach program," said Sergeant Sanga. "As good as our programs can be or are, if people don't come over, they will not obtain the benefits. My goal is to focus the Airmen so that they can take full advantage of the numerous opportunities the Air Force provides."