U.S. NAVAL AIR STATION JOINT RESERVE BASE FORT WORTH, Texas --
When someone raises their right hand to answer the nation’s call, the transition from civilian life to military life can be filled with many unknowns. Whether it’s Active Duty or the Air Force Reserve, the First Term Airmen Course (FTAC) is designed to help share the resources which are available to them when they arrive on their installation. These types of programs happen at Active Duty Air Force installations but, for the first time in the 301st Fighter Wing’s history, the wing hosted an FTAC for 11 of its newest members here from June 14 – 18, 2021.
The 24th Fighter Squadron is an active associate of the 301 FW which is a Total Force Initiative that partners Active Duty and Reserve personnel to share resources, experience and joint training opportunities to accomplish objectives.
We talked with one of the team members, Senior Master Sgt. Nate McReynolds, 301st Fighter Wing Yellow Ribbon Program representative, who put on this historic FTAC program in this week’s commentary:
Question: Who was involved in making this program happen?
McReynolds: 301 FW Command Chief Chief Master Sgt. Michael Senigo, myself, 24th Fighter Squadron Training Manager Tech. Sgt. Kessler Hamon, and Sheppard Air Force Base Career Assistance Advisor Senior Master Sgt. Michael Parrott were instrumental in making this happen. 24 FS Tech. Sgt. Dustin Grantom also was involved before he was pulled away during the planning. In total, we had 11 members attend from several different units both Active Duty and Reserve.
Q: What was the motivation behind making this happen and what was offered?
McReynolds: FTAC is a required course for Active Duty members. Per the Air Force Instruction, they are required to attend a FTAC within 60 days of arriving on station. Prior to this event, members have had to go to Sheppard or Dyess AFB, Texas to get their training. This creates difficulty for our Airmen because the course material offered there, which covers the local surrounding area, was only about Sheppard and Dyess which doesn’t help our members. From the Reserve side of the house, the program has not ever been offered for our Reservists but it is a great opportunity for them to learn more about the Air Force and Air Force Reserve. We talked about orders, status, annual tour, professional military education, promotion opportunities, enlistment performance reports and bullet writing… things which will be a part of our enlisted FTAC Airmen’s careers. In addition, we had representatives from the wing’s helping agencies such as equal opportunity, legal, psychological health and finance come out to talk about their specialties and resources available. This course also helps give them a POC in the event they need any help from on base.
Q: What do you want participants to walk away with?
McReynolds: I want participants to walk away with a good foundation of knowledge on USAF and USAFR operations. Myself and Tech. Sgt. Hamon have been providing them with information but also giving them ample opportunity to ask questions and have a discussion. This was a more interactive course than the FTAC courses I have previously attended.
Q: What is the future of this program?
McReynolds: Our intent is to host these events on a quarterly basis so our Active Duty members can remain local for their FTAC while also giving Reservists the opportunity to participate and start their careers of with more information.
Q: How does this program help the wing’s mission and its Airmen?
McReynolds: The overall mission of the 301 FW is to train and deploy combat ready Airmen. The vision is to be the premier provider of leading-edge airpower with mission-ready, empowered, Total Force Airmen, balancing family, employer and country. This course hits on all of those aspects. By having more information on the Air Force, our Airmen are better prepared in the event they have to deploy and are more familiar with the programs offered to help them be prepared or prepare their families in the event they have to leave.
Q: Final thoughts?
McReynolds: We really enjoyed getting everyone together and learning more about the different support services and about the differences between Active and Reserves. I think both components will walk away with a better understanding of the other’s operations. Without an FTAC, these are skills or knowledge they would slowly have to acquire over the years whereas we were able to provide them with that information and get them started on their career with more information and a better understanding of the Reserve.