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A week in FTAC

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- As new Airmen in the operational Air Force, your immediate focus is being proficient at your job. Perfecting your craft takes practice, patience and most importantly, time. But with all this time being consumed by your job, how do you get acquainted with your first duty station?

Enter the First Term Airmen Center.

FTAC is a week-long orientation that provides resources Airmen will need during their military careers. It is a crucial stop on the road to success in the military.

"FTAC is important because we know that Airmen finish basic training, they go on to tech school, and then they come here and just before they go to their units we want to make sure we provide them with all the resources that they're entitled to," said Master Sgt. Enrique Santiago, 30th Force Support Squadron career assistance advisor. "We want to make sure that all the Airmen start off on the right track. So, we provide them with all the resources and we let them know how to access those resources."

I didn't know what to expect from FTAC. Many of my peers told me to be prepared for "death by PowerPoint"; while others told me I would need a lot of caffeine to survive some of the briefings they compared to "watching paint dry." So, I stocked up on five Red Bulls for the week, one per day.

I showed up on the first morning of FTAC with a lot of uncertainty about how my week would pan out. While my week wasn't the most exciting, my instructors and briefers put any doubt I had about FTAC to rest.

Our class, comprised of seven new Airmen, learned a multitude of things throughout the week. Topics of information ranged from standards and discipline, the enlisted force structure, dorm management and safety. We had group discussions about the sexual assault prevention and response, warrior role, equal opportunity, and the history of Vandenberg. Finally, we discussed all of the opportunities provided to us, such as financial and legal services, education, Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs, and joining Honor Guard.

A new component of the FTAC schedule is resiliency training. Added in 2013, the training incorporates many skills Airmen may need in dire situations.

[Resiliency training is made up of four pillars: physical, mental, social and spiritual,] said Pauline Chui, 30th Space Wing community support coordinator. [Some of the classes teach skills such as self-regulation, thinking, interpersonal communication and listening, as well as how to be aware of your thoughts and emotions and how they can affect your consequences.]

FTAC is a great opportunity for new Airmen to get acquainted with their first duty station. After all is said and done, you feel more comfortable and confident in your overall knowledge of the base and the opportunities available.

"FTAC summed up everything I need," said Airman 1st Class Delroy Maronie, 30th Civil Engineer Squadron structural apprentice. "It's a necessity for young Airmen coming in. We can't just come to a new base and start working. We need to know what's available to us. If I didn't go to FTAC, I would not know a lot of stuff like financial and legal services that are available to me. I think this is a good thing that we all get to go through."