JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND-Texas —
The 37th Training Wing will mark the first year of the innovative program entitled Airmen’s Week March 25 at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.
Airmen’s Week is a five-day course that helps Airmen better prepare for technical training school and beyond. The strategic curriculum further develops professional, resilient Airmen who are inspired by heritage, committed to the service’s core values and motivated to deliver airpower, according to Kevin Adelsen, Air Education and Training Command Airmen’s Week Program Manager.
Since its inception, instructors, course developers, and most importantly, Airmen, have noted the positive impacts the program has had thus far.
“We are getting them to think more deeply about Air Force core values, about what it means to be a member of the profession of arms and we have over an 89 percent approval rate from the Airmen that have been through Airmen’s Week,” said Adelsen. “From a qualitative, anecdotal standpoint it is a resounding success.”
The concept of Airmen’s Week stemmed from Air Force officials, including Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody, and members of the 737th Training Group, evaluating the former eight-and-a-half week BMT program and assessing how to further enhance Airmanship skills and emphasize a long-standing commitment to core values and morality.
“We’re trying to get into our Airmen’s hearts and into their minds earlier, and really develop the right culture, and what it really means to be an Airman serving their nation,” said Chief Master Sgt. David Staton, AETC command chief.
Although the program has undergone changes since its launch, the goal of Airmen’s Week remains constant with curriculum focused exclusively on wingmanship, resiliency, leadership and followership, sexual assault prevention and response, the warrior ethos, and how Airmen can balance their personal and professional lives.
While the instruction of Airmen’s Week is curriculum based, a concept called active mentorship is also applied, which requires the instructors to engage with the Airmen to figure out what they want to know about the Air Force instead of waiting to be asked. By displaying the transparency to share both successes and failures, instructors can provide both relatable and ethical advice to Airmen as they begin their careers.
“Active mentorship is the idea that you don’t passively wait for an Airman to seek out guidance and advice,” said Lt. Col. Meghan Doherty, 326th Training Squadron and Airmen’s Week commander. “You seek out the Airman to give them what they need and ask them what they want. You use your experience to help an Airman find their path in the Air Force.”
For the students, Airmen’s Week is proving to have added great value to the transition from civilians to Airmen. Airman 1st Class Brianna Smith, 20th Intelligence Squadron geospatial intelligence analyst at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, was one of the first Airmen to complete Airmen’s Week and believes the course will have a positive and lasting effect on her career and personal life.
“For me personally, when I think back on my experience, absolutely one hundred percent, it was worth it,” Smith said. “I took a lot from Airmen’s Week and I was very, very lucky to walk away with an extremely unique and valuable experience.”
The qualitative data from Airmen combined with quantitative data from the Air Force’s technical training schools will provide an even more accurate measure of where Airmen’s Week is today. Facilitators will process the information they’re given and determine the direction needed in order to continue developing and producing quality Airmen.
Airmen’s Week has proven to be a solid foundation for a continuum of development unique to an Airman’s age, skill set and experience, and approximately 33,000 Airmen have benefited from the program.
“One year ago, we implemented Airmen’s Week in an effort to help fundamentally shape the character of the Airmen serving in our United States Air Force,” Brig. Gen Trent Edwards, commander of the 37th Training Wing, said. The 37th Training Wing encompasses BMT and more than 70% of all Air Force technical training courses.
“During the last year, over 31,000 Airmen have transitioned through Airmen’s Week and today I am proud to state that we have successfully produced more professional, resilient Airmen, inspired by our heritage, committed to the Air Force core values and motivated to deliver airpower for America,” Edwards said. “I couldn’t be more proud of my 737th Training Group team and our partnership with AETC’s Profession of Arms Center of Excellence. I am excited to serve alongside these Airmen and optimistic about where they will take us in the future.”