JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — The Blackjack Education Center continuously offers a three week fundamental academic skills training class to all service members stationed here at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, to help them raise their general technical score on the armed services vocational aptitude battery.
Iris S. Hollis, the education services officer at the center, said FAST classes are available at no cost to Soldiers and cover reading, mathematics, language and computer skills.
"Specifically, the FAST program aims to improve job performance, prepare Soldiers for more advanced schooling, increase re-enlistment options and enhance (Soldier) trainability," said Hollis.
The program uses pre and post diagnostic testing to gauge students' progress, she said.
FAST is comprised of 42 lesson books that break down the test, said Thomas M. Sasko, local program manager for the center.
The diagnostic test given at the beginning of the program identifies students' problem areas and shows which lesson books will help the student improve, said Sasko.
Second Lt. Jess B. Henry, the component repair platoon leader for the 514th Support Maintenance Company and an instructor for the FAST course, said a couple of his Soldiers wanted to go through the FAST course, but the wait to get into a class was roughly 45 days at the time.
"I called them up and asked what it took to be an instructor here, so we could get one more class and get our Soldiers through," said Henry.
The bench marks of the program are determined by the individual because the Soldiers come into the class with a good idea of their goals, said Henry.
Having a high GT score — above 110 — can open doors for Soldiers, allowing them to commission through Officer Candidate School, or re-enlist with better terms, to name a few.
The next FAST class begins Sept. 4 and runs through Sept. 24. Applications are available at the Blackjack Education Center.