FTAC: Inspiring success

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. John De La Rosa, the career assistant advisor assigned to the 509th Force Support Squadron. Enjoys a moment of reflection about the First Term Airman Course at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., Aug. 16, 2017. De La Rosa has been the CAA at Whiteman since April 2015, and has seen a positive impact on first-term Airmen since Airmanship 300 has been incorporated in FTAC. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Danielle Quilla)

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. John De La Rosa, the career assistant advisor assigned to the 509th Force Support Squadron. Enjoys a moment of reflection about the First Term Airman Course at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., Aug. 16, 2017. De La Rosa has been the CAA at Whiteman since April 2015, and has seen a positive impact on first-term Airmen since Airmanship 300 has been incorporated in FTAC. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Danielle Quilla)

First Term Airman Course students engage in a discussion about professionalism at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., July 24, 2017. FTAC is a five-day class that consists of briefs from different base agencies, 13 hours of professionalism training that helps Airmen transition from a training environment to operational Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Danielle Quilla)

First Term Airman Course students engage in a discussion about professionalism at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., July 24, 2017. FTAC is a five-day class that consists of briefs from different base agencies, 13 hours of professionalism training that helps Airmen transition from a training environment to operational Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Danielle Quilla)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Since Airmanship 300 was incorporated into the First Term Airman Course curriculum, Airmen have had the opportunity to do more than just in-process at their first duty station.

“Over the years it has become a great program,” said Senior Master Sgt. John De La Rosa, the career assistant advisor assigned to the 509th Force Support Squadron at Whiteman Air Force Base. “Before it never really tackled the subject that Airmen really needed to know: how to effectively make a transition.”

Airmen had to make the leap from standing in formation in military training to exercising integrity in the operational Air Force.

Now with 13 hours dedicated to professionalism training, FTAC has opened up a new dialogue between the first-term Airmen and the senior NCOs and NCOs who volunteer as course facilitators.

“The changes in the FTAC program, I believe, attack the issues right at the forefront,” said De La Rosa. “We teach the Airmen how to go through systematically thinking, which helps them formulate understanding on why they are coming up with the decision that they are making.”

With Airmen coming from different backgrounds, one of the key topics of discussion during the course is about the conflict Airmen may have between the Air Force core values and their own personal values. Biases and misperceptions often play a role in the decision making process.

“A lot of time individuals outside of the military are not held accountable for ethical beliefs and values of an organization,” said De La Rosa. “We want to coach these young Airmen to be able to adapt to our beliefs and values in order to make them successful.”

He went on to say that, “New Airmen want to know that their leaders have a real story like they do, and this course allows senior NCOs and NCOs alike to be able to build that relation and help create inspiration for these young Airmen.”

For De La Rosa, it is all about inspiration.

“Even when I look at my career, the tracks I have taken and the successes I have been able to achieve, it was really just inspired by someone who had already done it before me,” he said.

As a kid, De La Rosa grew up in the inner city surrounded by gang violence and drugs.

“A very special person, retired chief master sergeant, entered my life and showed me that there were different paths to success other than violence and drugs,” he recalled. “His level of professionalism and unwavering care for me lead me to believe the military was something I needed to be part of.”

Today, NCOS at all levels are able to share the adversities and ethical dilemmas they have experienced throughout their careers and how they were able to get to where they are now.

“The program has bridged the gap, and allowed new Airmen to understand that we are here for them,” said De La Rosa. “Especially when they can’t find help in their immediate circle, this course exposes the Airmen to other senior NCOs and NCOs outside of their normal work environment who are willing to be there for them.”

Overall, FTAC has provided Airmen with the tools they need to understand the Air Force core values and mentors they can lean on throughout their careers. It may be said that this program is the first real transition Airmen make from a training environment to the operational Air Force.