First Term Airmen Center welcomes first students of 2011

Tech. Sgt. Jenessa Craig, NCOIC of the First Term Airmen Center at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, and Staff Sgt. Ashanti Cox, assistant NCOIC, inspect the first class of 2011.

Tech. Sgt. Jenessa Craig, NCOIC of the First Term Airmen Center at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, and Staff Sgt. Ashanti Cox, assistant NCOIC, inspect the first class of 2011.

Story and photo by David D. Underwood Jr.

Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Public Affairs

The sun has not yet risen, but the lamp posts light the sidewalk near the facility entrance as the training instructor opens the door of the First Term Airmen Center (FTAC) for its first students of 2011.

The day begins at 6:30 a.m. and Airmen arrive, ready to see what FTAC is all about.

This is the beginning of the first assignment for many Airmen, the first step to entering the operational Air Force.

The First Term Airmen Center began in 1977, and was originally a setting for new arrivals from basic training and technical school to complete ancillary training requirements and to be a pool of bodies for base details.

FTAC has done away with the base detail involvement and shifted toward a more professional military education environment. It is a two-week program that introduces Airmen to leadership, standards and discipline, the enlisted force structure, and Air Force culture and core values.

It continues the emphasis on dress and appearance and the physical fitness program. “This is to ensure the concepts are engrained in the newest members to the Air Force,” said Tech. Sergeant Jenessa E. Craig, the non-commissioned officer-in-charge of the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam FTAC.

The first day starts dark and early with an open ranks inspection, illuminated only by the light of dawn. After the uniforms are meticulously reviewed and critiqued, the students return to the auditorium for their welcome briefing.

The schedule is structured throughout the two weeks, and is filled with mandatory topics such as the wing leadership perspective, Airmen and Family Readiness Center operations, personal financial management, and suicide prevention and awareness. The students also receive a first duty station orientation, briefings on substance abuse education, and sexual assault prevention and response awareness.

Although FTAC is structured, not all training is done in the classroom. Airmen participate in physical fitness training three times a week, and take a mock PT test to assess where they stand and where they need to be with fitness standards. There is some leisure time with tours of the base to become familiarized with all the available services and activities. There is also a tour of the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor.

Staff Sgt. Ashanti S. Cox, 15th Maintenance Group, is on a three-month tour with FTAC as team lead and assistant NCOIC. She said she has really enjoyed the short time she has been at FTAC and working with new Airmen. “FTAC wasn’t as structured when I went through,” Cox said. “A lot more is covered in 10 days, like what the base has to offer, the different agencies and what to expect.”

“FTAC eliminates the ‘I didn’t know’ excuse,” Craig added.

The Airmen receive briefings from a first sergeant and from a representative of the base’s Airmen’s council. They are introduced to volunteer opportunities, whom to talk to about dorm issues, and where to go when they need help.

“I got a lot of good information,” said Airman 1st Class Russell C. Bauer, information assurance technician for 747th Communications Squadron. “They did a good job in base orientation, showed us good places to go, and it was a nice transition from tech school to the operational Air Force.”

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Category: News