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AFAS: supported by the Air Force, serving the Air Force

Posted 4/7/2011   Updated 4/7/2011 Email story   Print story


by Sarah Olaciregui
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

4/7/2011 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- The Air Force Assistance Fund campaign kicked off here March 28 and will run through May 6. The campaign offers service members an opportunity to lend support to fellow Airmen who stand in need.

AFAF benefits four charities committed to supporting Airmen and their families through difficult times. One of these charities is the Air Force Aid Society.

Charity spotlight: Air Force Aid Society
The Air Force Aid Society helps fund community support programs and provides loans and college scholarships for qualifying service members and their dependents.

The AFAS was founded in 1942 by Army Air Force personnel who wanted to help fellow Airmen through their struggles.

Air Force-wide, the society helped more than 38,000 Airmen and their families with $18.3 million in assistance in 2010, according to the Air Force Aid Society's website at www.afas.org.

How AFAS helps Hanscom
Locally, the AFAS helps to fund many programs run through the Airman and Family Readiness Center.

AFAS has provided Hanscom with funds for the following community-based programs: respite care, Give Parents a Break, child care for volunteers, child care for PCS, Car Care Because We Care and Bundles for Babies.

"We recently made improvements to the Bundles for Babies program by streamlining the presentations," said Dan Mazzuca, Hanscom's Air Force Aid Society officer. "We still give expectant parents important information, but without spending the entire day in class. So far, we have received rave reviews on the new format."

The program is available to active duty, guard and reserve members of all branches of service, as well as Department of Defense civilians.

The AFAS also grants interest-free loans to those who experience unexpected emergencies and offers grants and scholarships to active-duty personnel and retirees.

In 2010, Hanscom family members received $10,000 in college grant money.

"We also have the Falcon Loan program," said Mr. Mazzuca. "This is a special loan for $500 or less that can be used for emergency needs such as basic living, car repair and emergency travel. This loan is for active duty Air Force members."

Another type of loan program is the Standard Emergency Loan.

"The Standard Emergency Loan program is available to all branches of service. In the last six months, we've provided more than $27,000 to Hanscom service members, regardless of service component," he said.

Personnel at Hanscom make sure the money from the charity is put to good use.

"One question that comes up is how much of the donated money comes back to the Hanscom community?" said Mr. Mazzuca. "Last year we received $29,210 through the Air Force Assistance Fund, but through loans, community enhancement programs and scholarships we provided almost $47,000 in support to Air Force service members."

One Hanscom service member was able to take advantage of an AFAS loan. Staff Sergeant Jason Jernigan from the 66th Medical Squadron had some unexpected events take place in his life and ended up needing financial help.

"I had never asked for money before because pride was such a huge issue for me," he said. "When I finally decided I needed help, the Air Force Aid Society was able to break it all down for me. They really looked at me like I was a person and showed true compassion."

Sergeant Jernigan now recommends AFAS to any service member that may need it.

"I think this whole experience has made me a better NCO," he said. "When I was speaking to Airmen during FTAC (First Term Airman's Course), I was able to speak about AFAS from first-hand experience and let them know I had used this resource in a time of need."

In all, AFAS provided Hanscom's military personnel and their family members with $46,905 in loans, grants and educational support and community needs programs in 2010.

"This is not about what any one person does to support our military members, rather, the Air Force Aid Society is a charity created by Air Force members, supported by Air Force members and serves Air Force members," Mr. Mazzuca said.

For more information on the AFAS supported A&FRC programs, call the A&FRC at 781-377-4222.

Those who wish to contribute to AFAF should contact their unit point of contact, listed below, or visit the AFAF website, www.afassistancefund.org, and complete the contribution form.

Hanscom AFAF installation project officers:
1st Lt. Cameron Linder: 781-377-1538
Master Sgt. Richard Olivarez: 781-377-5297

Unit project officers:
Electronic Systems Center staff: Airman 1st Class Yasmin Gee
C2ISR Directorate: Capt. Warren Anderson
ESC/HSG: Samantha Welch and Matthew Ambrose
ESC/HIS: 2nd Lt. Frank Vicari
ESC/HSJ: 1st Lt. Gary Priest and 1st Lt David Frisbey
ESC/HSN: 1st Lt. Christopher Monson and 1st Lt. Michael Bolton
ESC/HSS: 1st Lt. Meghan Lansford
ESC/PK: William Robinson and Capt. Axel Clark
ESC/HNA: 2nd Lt. Michael Pond and 2nd Lt. Joseph Calidonna
ESC/HNI: Charles Gisondi
ESC/HNS: 1st Lt. Troy Novak
ESC/HBA: Capt. Paul Lienhard
ESC/FM: Capt. Catherine O'Donnel
ESC/HGBC: Capt. Stephen Kalinowski
Band of Liberty: Airman 1st Class Rachel Maclary
66 ABG: 2nd Lt. Brent Olson and Staff Sgt. Julius Stokes
66 MDS: Capt. Stela Striligas and Susan Cascalheira

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