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Getting Seasoned

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --  

Readiness is one of the most important standards a member of the Air Force Reserve is tasked with reaching. A Reserve Citizen Airman should always be prepared to serve whenever called upon.

I found myself asking if I was ready shortly after arriving here in March 2018 as a brand-new Reserve Citizen Airman. After finishing Basic Military Training and technical training, I reported to the Public Affairs office equipped with extensive military and photojournalism skills.

However, I quickly realized that I had a lot to learn. Only being able to put on my uniform and do my job one weekend a month straight out of tech school wouldn’t have given me enough time to learn my unit’s mission. I needed more time to understand the normal operating procedures for my shop and my role in it. I also needed time for practical experience in the operational Air Force, a much different environment than initial training for first-term Airmen.

The answer to the readiness problem I and other new Airmen face can be answered by participating in the Seasoning Training Program, this is an on-the-job training opportunity offered by Air Force Reserve units to new Airman.

“The seasoning training program gives members the opportunity to work full-time in their career field for a set amount of continuous days after completing tech school,” said Technical Sgt. Bronson Moss, 307th Force Support Squadron NCO in charge of Wing Education and Training. “This gives them time to put their newly acquired skills to work and become more proficient in applying what they have learned.”

The advantages STP provides are immense. Airmen are able to sharpen the skills they learn in technical training and apply them on an everyday basis. They also get to see first-hand how their roles contribute to the Air Force.

Of course, one of the biggest perks of STP is the pay and benefits available to the participants. Airmen in the program receive active-duty pay and benefits such as free health care throughout the course of their seasoning training, in addition to serving active-duty time that can go towards receiving a higher percentage on their post-9/11 GI Bill tuition assistance.

All of these factors contributed towards a very positive STP experience for me. Of course, I learned a lot not only about my job, but also what the day-to-day workings of the Air Force look like. Temporary duty assignments at Warner-Robbins Air Force Base, Georgia and Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, New York showed me there is more to the Air Force Reserve than one weekend a month. I was able to finish my five-level career development courses, which is a time-consuming but vital task for junior enlisted Airmen. This was done without having to worry about studying or testing while at college. Perhaps most importantly, I gained mentors and peers from around the wing that have given me guidance and advice as I navigate the waters of my young career.

All in all, the seasoning training program provided the tools I needed to both accomplish the tasks handed down to me in my career and be the highest caliber Airman possible. If you asked me what it takes for young Airmen to prepare themselves for when the Air Force and their nation needs them, I would say all they need is some seasoning.