FTAC surprises new Airman

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Stephan Coleman
  • 81 TRW/PA
The First Term Airmen Center hosts a slew of briefings to acquaint new Airmen to their base and to what it means to be permanent party. Keesler's FTAC class lasts eight hours a day, for four days.

Obviously, this description lacks reasons for excitement, and the people joining me in room 120 at the Professional Development Center reflected such enthusiasm Feb. 19, the first day of my FTAC experience.

Everyone was glum at first, but the host, Senior Master Sgt. Mark Pitts, quickly energized us with his sense of humor and honesty. Pitts urged us to take advantage of the primary benefit of being in briefings all week: networking. Social networking isn't just for Facebook and Twitter, it's actually done best the old-fashioned way.

Spending the week in a plain room listening to briefings does a surprising job of bringing people together. The briefers kept everyone engaged and were great role models for us.

Resiliency training gave us perspectives on how being positive and proactive can make a difference in any situation. It really set the tone for the last two days by changing the class attitude. We realized how unproductive a negative attitude is and began making the best of being in briefings by asking questions and getting involved.

As Pitts said on the first day, if we take nothing else from the FTAC course, we should take this: "Don't be a slug."

A slug is someone that forgets basic and technical training and starts moving slowly--like an actual slug. Instead, we should be doing the opposite, and should always strive to be excellent.

"An assignment is what you make of it." I heard that sentiment so many times in tech school that rolling my eyes became an involuntary response, but it's actually true. And, being in FTAC is a great analogy for a duty assignment. You don't know anyone there, and maybe it's perceived as a boring or unwanted place to be, but it doesn't have to be that way. It's amazing what a simple attitude change can accomplish.

Get involved, don't be a slug.