FTAC: Mentoring never stops

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- The First Term Airmen Course (FTAC) instructor took one last look at his service dress blues in the full length mirror hanging on his office wall. It was Monday. This meant uniform inspections and the start to another week of mentoring.

“On Monday the students usually tend to keep to themselves; however, by Friday morning everyone is engaged and I truly believe it is because of the Airmanship 300 material,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Bryan Robinson, the FTAC NCO in charge. “This material sparks healthy conversation and allows everyone to voice their opinion, which in turn allows others to better understand them.”

Since the Airmanship 300 curriculum was introduced to Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, on July 10, 2017, FTAC has grown to focus on professionalism training and bridging the Air Force core values to the mission.

“When I went through FTAC in 2008, it was all about briefings that covered topics such as education and finances,” recalled Robinson. “While all very informative, it seemed as if those briefers only came to talk at me and market the benefits that their organization had to offer.”

With less than a month to go, Robinson has been taking time to reflect on how he came to be an instructor. It started with a hunger to do something more.

“I walked into the career assistance advisor’s office and expressed my desire to teach,” said Robinson. “Senior Master Sgt. John De La Rosa gave me the opportunity to get involved with the wing's Airman Professional Enhancement Course. I facilitated the Ethics and Values block of instruction and from there my passion for instruction grew.”

The previous FTAC lead noticed Robinson’s passion and insisted he apply for the position as the FTAC NCO in charge.

“SSgt Robinson was handpicked for the job based on his involvement and performance facilitating our Airman Professional Enhancement courses. I had the pleasure of witnessing a quality I look for in Noncommissioned Officers, servant leadership, that motivated me to contact his squadron superintendent at the time to consider allowing him to become the next FTAC NCOIC. This is the first time I have ever personally requested someone to work in this office,” said Senior Master Sgt. De La Rosa, the career assistance advisor with the 509th Force Support Squadron.

His hunger, matched with training and experience, led to Robinson getting the job and instructing his first class from June 5 to 9, 2017, which held 29 students.

“It was a great class, many whom I still keep in contact with,” he said. “I never want a student to leave FTAC thinking that’s where the mentorship stops. I try to follow up with all my former students to see how their adjusting to military life and if they need any assistance.”

Just like the impact on his students will remain, so will his experience as an instructor.


Editor’s note: This is the second of a three-part series on FTAC. Next week, part three will focus on the career assistance advisor’s perspective of the new FTAC curriculum.