By Senior Airman Regina Edwards
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
The 2015 Air Force Assistance Fund campaign is underway, and The Rock is rolling right into action.
From now until April 11, members of the Air Force will have the opportunity to raise money and contribute to the AFAF. This year, Team Little Rock’s goal is approximately $79,000.
Each base squadron has individual goals based on 23 percent participation from its members.
The overall objective is for 100 percent contact and at least 90 percent participation in the drive.
The Air Force Assistance Society was established in 1942 to provide a yearly effort to raise funds for active-duty service members, retirees, reservists, guard members and their dependents to include surviving spouses who are in need of emergency aid.
Airmen can contribute by having an allotment set up through MyPay or through a one-time contribution. When contributing with an allotment, a minimum of one dollar each month for at least three months is mandatory. One-time contributions made by check or cash have no minimum amount.
Some Airmen may think that they don’t make enough money to give or their emergencies aren’t aid worthy. However, the AFAF has a broad range of helping programs. Donations go from a dollar to thousands of dollars and emergencies from medical to travel.
Master Sgt. Ryan Atkinson, 19th Operations Group C-130J loadmaster superintendent, knows the impact of giving to AFAF. He used it as a senior airman in 2000 to travel home on emergency leave for the funeral of his grandmother. In no time, Atkinson was on a plane, heading to Montana, with less stress than if he had to figure out travel plans and finances, as well as focus on his grieving family.
“The assistance was completed by the end of the duty day,” he said. “The AFAS office completed all the paperwork and any research needed to purchase airplane tickets. There was no stress for me due to their hard work.”
Like most Airmen, Atkinson had the many AFAS briefings he heard locked somewhere in the bottom of his memory, so he didn’t even think that this assistance was an option.
“I had heard the usual briefings and pitches about AFAS but didn’t give it a thought to use them,” he said. “It was my supervisor that pushed me to go over to the office and talk to a representative.”
And though a life wasn’t saved in this case, an Airman got a chance to say goodbye to a dear family member- a memory he wouldn’t have without AFAS.
“I have never felt that my request was as significant as some of the stories I have heard, (hospital bills, grants, family care), but the fact that there was an office willing to help me with my small need with no questions asked, is absolutely top notch. My need was pennies compared to what the AFAS helps with. I just hope we can continue to keep this program running for future Airmen and their families.”
There are many avenues to receive information on the AFAS. Chaplains, first sergeants and the Airman and Family Readiness Center all provide Airmen with resourceful information that can point them in the right direction in order to give or receive assistance.
“I think that it is very important for everyone to donate what they can,” he said. “After seeing the briefing during the kickoff breakfast [Tuesday], I realized that the AFAS spends more than it receives. Without the donations from the Airmen, they wouldn’t be able to help in the magnitude they do.”
For more information on the AFAF, its mission and objectives, visit www.afassistancefund.org or contact Peggy Stafford, the Little Rock AFB AFAF coordinator, located at the Airman and Family Readiness Center. Airmen can also speak with their unit AFAF representative.