It may be called Army Family Team Building, but one thing that really gets built in the program is the individuals taking part.

On May 7, after three days of training, nine students built themselves up further by completing the AFTB Level 2 course on Fort McPherson.

The course, which included 12 different blocks of instruction on topics such as introduction to leadership, team dynamics, acknowledging change, creative problem solving and enhancing personal relationships among others, is a continuation of the Level 1 course and a gateway into the Level 3 course, said Cynthia Giesecke, AFTB/Army Family Action plan specialist.

"Level 1 is learning, Level 2 is growing, and Level 3 is leading," she said, adding she hopes to hold a level 3 class in July. Personal growth in her own life was what led Angela Pierson, AFTB instructor, to go through all levels of AFTB training and qualify to give back by becoming an instructor.

"I wanted to give back to the organization that helped me grow as a person," she said. "It really helped me relate to my husband, other spouses and Soldiers."

A spouse of 12 years, Pierson said when she initially became part of the Army Family, she was looking for a way to connect with Army wives and learn more about the Army. She found that in the AFTB Level 1 class, which she describes as "Army 101."

"You learn things like creating a power of attorney, how to read a Leave and Earning Statement, and military customs and courtesies," Pierson said. "You can learn about the programs and find out what the Army can do for you."

The program, which was started after Operation Desert Storm, helped address issues faced by spouses when their servicemember deployed, leaving them to handle different situations.

AFTB helps prepare spouses for those moments, Giesecke said.

"It builds self reliance and a network. You develop self confidence and independence," she said. "You learn the Army lingo and the characteristics and role of a spouse."

The course proved invaluable for Giesecke. Within two years of graduating the course, her husband, Maj. Heath Giesecke, an automation officer with the U.S. Army Forces Command G-6, was called to Iraq. AFTB prepared her to handle life during his deployment, Giesecke said.

With deployments still a major part of the Army life, Giesecke encourages spouses to get involved in AFTB. Even with Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem set to close next year due to the Base Realignment and Closure Act, interested individuals should not let that deter them from taking advantage of the course.

Giesecke said certification is recognized Army-wide, so completion of the course carries over to any post. All posts have an AFTB program, she added.

Those who have missed out on previous training can take the Level 1 AFTB course online at Web site, Giesecke said.

The training is under the online training tab in the upper right hand corner.

"There's nothing wrong with going online and then doing the face-to-face," she said, noting that is how she got involved.

That involvement, like Pierson's, led to many opportunities for Giesecke.

"It gave me professionalism, a field, and a career of my own," she said. "AFTB opened doors for me."

Giesecke hopes more people continue to take the advanced AFTB courses and continue to become instructors. "It's challenging to find instructors," she said.

Still, even for those who aren't looking for a second career or to give back, Giesecke said it is a good, friendly program.

"There's no rank. Everyone is a student. We're all spouses and all Army friendly," she said. Pierson agreed, adding she "recommends it to all young spouses."

For more information on AFTB, contact Giesecke at 464-2499.