The Air Force Assistance Fund: Airmen helping Airmen

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Some 15 years ago, I was a new flight surgeon deployed to Europe under bare-base conditions to arguably what would become the largest air refueling base in history. I was in over my head but fortunately, I deployed with an experienced NCO and relied heavily on his knowledge for first several weeks.

During our deployment, this NCO confided that serious financial difficulties had risen at home and the stress was spilling into his marriage. I needed him to stay deployed but more importantly, he needed help beyond my ability to provide. The Air Force Assistance Fund stepped-in, worked with him long-distance in its compassionate way, and soon he was back on his feet.

Ten years later, he called me.

"My most difficult time was during that deployment," he said. "Thanks to the Air Force Aid Society, things have been going better ever since."

A full decade after receiving assistance, he mentioned the fund as it was that important to him.

The Air Force Assistance Fund includes four important charities with the inspiring premise of "Airmen helping Airmen": The Air Force Aid Society, Inc., Air Force Villages, Inc., The General and Mrs. Curtis LeMay Foundation and the Air Force Enlisted Village, Inc.

The effect of the AFAF is that the Air Force becomes a large family, taking care of its own. The AFAF is truly of the Airman, by the Airman and for the Airman.

In 2013, the AFAF distributed more than $17 million to active duty Airmen worldwide, helping provide basic needs like food, shelter, utilities, vehicle repair, emergency travel and education.
Last year, 89 Academy Airmen and their families received $59,000 in assistance from the AFAS. When multiplying that number by the AFAS's effect on my NCO's life, I'm amazed by the good this organization is doing.

Many Airmen were attracted to the Air Force because of its core values: Integrity First, Service Before Self and Excellence In All We Do. When an Airman receives assistance from the Air Force Assistance Fund's charities, those core values move from theory into practice and into our hearts and minds. The same thing happens to each of us when we donate.

Would you buy a cup of coffee for a friend? Of course you would. Then why not donate $5 or $10 a month this year help to member of our extended family - to help our fellow Airmen?
Let's lift each other up, unite, and enjoy the satisfaction that comes with extending a helping hand to those who have hung up the uniform or are still wearing the blue.

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