FTAC: Helping Airmen adapt to Whiteman AFB

Chief Master Sgt. Lee Barr, 509th Bomb Wing command chief, speaks to First Term Airmen Center students Oct. 29 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. FTAC holds a five-day class every Monday to help first-term Airmen get all the information they need about the base and the services it has to offer. (U.S. Air Force photo/Heidi Hunt)

Chief Master Sgt. Lee Barr, 509th Bomb Wing command chief, speaks to First Term Airmen Center students Oct. 29 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. FTAC holds a five-day class every Monday to help first-term Airmen get all the information they need about the base and the services it has to offer. (U.S. Air Force photo/Heidi Hunt)

Jeff Huffman, Department of Justice program coordinator, speaks to students from Whiteman Air Force Base’s First Term Airmen Center during a tour of the University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg, Mo., Nov. 2. During the tour Airmen learned more about various programs and opportunities within the local community. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airmen Nick Wilson) (Released)

Jeff Huffman, Department of Justice program coordinator, speaks to students from Whiteman Air Force Base’s First Term Airmen Center during a tour of the University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg, Mo., Nov. 2. During the tour Airmen learned more about various programs and opportunities within the local community. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airmen Nick Wilson) (Released)

Brig. Gen. Thomas Bussiere, 509th Bomb Wing commander, speaks to First Term Airmen Center students Oct. 29 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. To help ease the transition of technical school to the operational Air Force, new Airmen are required to attend the First Term Airmen Center within their first 30 days of arrival to Whiteman. (U.S. Air Force photo/Heidi Hunt) (Released)

Brig. Gen. Thomas Bussiere, 509th Bomb Wing commander, speaks to First Term Airmen Center students Oct. 29 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. To help ease the transition of technical school to the operational Air Force, new Airmen are required to attend the First Term Airmen Center within their first 30 days of arrival to Whiteman. (U.S. Air Force photo/Heidi Hunt) (Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- "Room, 'tench hut!"

A classroom full of Airmen rapidly snaps to attention as the base commander walks in to greet the young, frightened and nervous group of newcomers.

With only eight weeks of basic training and the basic skill sets learned in tech school under their belts, these new Airmen know very little about the operational side of the Air Force.

Whiteman's First Term Airman Center helps Airmen shift from the mindset of basic training and tech school to the functional side of the Air Force.

"We orient new Airmen to the base to give them an idea of what's available through different services and agencies throughout Whiteman and the local community," said Staff Sgt. Mark Stoverink, 509th Force Support Squadron FTAC team leader.

Regardless of career field, each first-term Airman is required to attend FTAC within 30 days of arrival to his or her first duty station.

"It gives everyone an opportunity throughout the week to interact and get to know people from all walks of life on base," Stoverink said. "In a work environment, if you know different people in other areas, that can definitely be beneficial [in helping] cut through the red tape and being able to get more work done when there are time constraints."

FTAC holds a five-day class every Monday. The Airmen receive a service dress inspection, briefings from the base commander and command chief on what is expected of them throughout their careers as enlisted members.

"FTAC helps build a pretty good foundation for Airmen," said Staff Sgt. Craig White, 509th FSS FTAC team leader. "New Airmen are kind of confused and don't know where to go. So we show them where to go and what they can do to get involved."

The week's events also include briefings from the legal office, Area Defense Council and several other base agencies.

Each agency gives a briefing discussing the core competencies of their organization and how their organizations make an impact in the lives of Airmen.

"The briefers have reliable information and FTAC does a great job of providing those resources," Stoverink said. "It gives a lot more outlets when Airmen have questions or concerns."

Without FTAC, building morale in Airman who feel they are stuck in the middle of nowhere, can be quite demoralizing for Airmen, according to Stoverink.

"First-term Airmen are used to 'back home,' where they always knew what their buddies were doing," Stoverink explained.

"They knew where to hang out and what was going on. It's not like that here because Airman have to make plans, due to all their peers being on different work schedules."

Stoverink says FTAC gives Airmen a basic network of peers who can call one another to make plans when they experience feelings of isolation after duty or on the weekends.

When it comes to Air Force Global Strike Command's mission, vision and values, FTAC prepares Airmen for challenges they may face in the future, thereby helping build an elite, highly disciplined team in an air, space and cyberspace force.

"Our Airmen are expected to meet high demands every day," said Stoverink. "The tempo of inspections we have for nuclear surety definitely adds another stressor to that list as well, but our Airmen continue to perform flawlessly."