Education opportunities reformed to fit TFI model
By Master Sgt. Ted Daigle, 307th Bomb Wing
/ Published February 12, 2020
BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --
Collaboration between the 2nd and 307th Force Support Squadron has created new opportunities for active-duty and Reserve Citizen Airmen here.
Senior Master Sgt. Jena Brooks, 2nd FSS career assistance advisor and Master Sgt. Macord Johnson, 307th FSS career assistance advisor, teamed up to offer Reserve Citizen Airmen access to base professional development courses previously available only to active-duty Airmen.
The 2nd Bomb Wing and 307th Bomb Wing have invested heavily in the Total Force Integration model in which active-duty integrates with Reserve units to accomplish the mission. Brooks and Johnson thought it made sense to add professional development to the effort.
“I help many active-duty Airmen who work alongside Reservists in the TFI units and we have so many programs on base, it made sense to open them up,” said Brooks. “We constantly emphasize Total Force, so this is just another way to make that happen.”
The concept started nearly a year ago, but no courses were offered until funding for Reservists could be worked out. The 2nd FSS provides course funding and Reserve units must provide funding for orders to attend.
“Creating and implementing PME courses of this quality is labor and cost intensive, so if we can piggy-back on an existing platform, then putting someone on orders for a week is cost effective,” said Johnson.
The first Reserve Citizen Airmen took part in January, completing the First Term Airman Course and the Senior Noncommissioned Officer Professional Enhancement Seminar.
The FTAC encompasses several areas new Airmen must adjust to when getting to their first duty station.
“The purpose of FTAC is to move Airmen from a training mindset to a mission mindset and help them adapt to their new environment,” said Brooks.
The five-day course includes a deeper analysis of topics such as professionalism, personal financial management, diversity, communication, fitness and resiliency. It adds other, base-specific items, including education opportunities, meetings with leadership, and Air Force Global Strike Command fundamentals. Airmen also get a static tour of a B-52 Stratofortress.
Airman Keenan Gilyard, 307th FSS personnel craftsman, was the first Reserve Citizen Airmen to complete FTAC at Barksdale. He said the entire course was helpful, but he gained the most from interacting with his active-duty counterparts.
He found himself serving as an ambassador, teaching active-duty Airmen about the role life in the Air Force Reserve and providing information on the local area.
“Once the other Airmen found out I was a Reservist, they were completely surprised and started asking me all sorts of questions,” he said.
His experience was not one-sided, adding that networking with active-duty Airmen taught him a great deal about their every-day life.
Staff Sgt. Adriana McIlvaine, FTAC lead instructor, saw the interaction between Reserve Citizen Airmen and active-duty Airmen paying off in a TFI environment.
“Reservists often work side-by-side with active duty Airmen, so this class was helpful,” she said. “They learn about the unique stressors active-duty Airmen face and they teach us about the Reserves.”
Master Sgt. Gavilan Jewitt, 307th Logistics Readiness Squadron transportation specialist, attended the SNCOPES. The event covers several topics including bullet writing for the enlisted evaluation system, Unit Manpower Documents, Airman development and Air Force professional writing.
“It really helps to transition from a technician mindset to a supervisor mindset,” he said. “It gave me insight to some things I didn’t know and served as a good refresher on some other things I had not seen in a while.”
Jewitt said he does not have daily interaction with active-duty troops, so the interaction between the two groups was mutually beneficial.
“If a Reservist has the opportunity to go, they should,” he said. “I learned a lot just speaking with active-duty Airmen and they were blown away when they learned about things like being an Air Reserve Technician.”
The collaboration between the 2nd FSS and 307th FSS is unique. Brooks performed an informal survey of dozens of bases to determine if others had a similar program and discovered it was unique to Barksdale.
Reserve Citizen Airmen wishing to learn more about these professional development opportunities can email Master Sgt. Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.