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First step toward a new life

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kris Levasseur
  • 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Basic Military Training is over. You've graduated technical school for your Air Force specialty skill classification and you're taking your first steps in a new country, base and lifestyle.
This can be a confusing time for many first-term Airmen, as they do not know what to expect or even what to do when they arrive. That's where the First Term Airmen' s Center steps in. 

"The FTAC program is designed to help transition first-term Airmen into the operational Air Force," said Tech. Sgt. Glenn Languirand, 48th Mission Support Squadron, FTAC, non-commissioned officer in charge. 

FTAC does this by consolidating the majority of in-processing briefings into a 2-week course, providing volunteer opportunities, maintaining physical training and introducing new Airmen to others in the same situation. 

The program consists of two different areas, professionalism week and readiness week. 

Professionalism week informs new Airmen about different services and organizations available, including Airmen Committed to Excellence, the Chaplain, the Airman and Family Readiness Center and more. During this week Airmen will attend important briefings such as the command chief master sergeant's welcome briefing and a "How to Club Safely" briefing. 

"A lot of the things we cover during professionalism week are designed to help Airmen be more responsible and professional before sending them out onto RAF Lakenheath," said Staff Sgt. Shannalee Karrick, 48th MSS, FTAC former NCOIC.
During the readiness week, FTAC Airmen complete a large number of mandatory briefings and ancillary training. Readiness week is designed to incorporate required training and briefings in a one week period. The training items could take weeks or even months without the aid of FTAC. The training and briefings include chemical warfare training, Law of Armed Conflict, alcohol and drug abuse program and the Office of Special Investigations briefing. 

FTAC doesn't focus only on training and briefings. A big part of FTAC introduces Airmen to other Airmen who may work along side of them. 

"FTAC helps Airmen become part of the community by introducing them to other Airmen in a circumstance similar to the one they are in," said Sergeant Karrick. "This helps them establish a positive social network early on in their stay on RAF Lakenheath." 

"FTAC has helped me get to know more about the other organizations on RAF Lakenheath," said Airman 1st Class Clinton Rowland, 48th Communications Squadron. "I deal with the people I met in FTAC on a regular basis." 

One of the added responsibilities of FTAC here is the reduced drinking age. 

"FTAC is an important part of RAF Lakenheath's orientation process because many of the young Airmen are able to drink here when they couldn't back in the states," said Master Sgt. Kimberly Crawford, 48th MSS, FTAC superintendent. "We try to address this added challenge through a number of mentoring programs and training." 

Upon entering FTAC, Airmen receive a wingman card, Airman Against Drunk Driving card, Airman ZOT card and training on the different programs. 

"Our main objective is to not only prepare Airmen for duty, but also to provide RAF Lakenheath with good citizens through various volunteer opportunities," Said Sergeant Crawford. "Our Airmen volunteer on a regular basis at the post office or pallet build-up for deployments." 

A key tool for preparing new Airmen for active duty service is FTAC. The things Airmen learn in FTAC could be the foot they use to step toward a new life.