AFAF highlight: Air Force Aid Society
HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Runners take off during the Company Grade Officers Council-sponsored 5K/10K run held March 22 to help raise money for the Air Force Assistance Fund. The AFAF campaign runs until May 4 and helps provide for the well-being of active duty and retired Airmen and their families. Fundraising events will be held throughout the campaign. (U.S. Air Force photo by Rick Berry)
Posted 3/28/2012 Updated 3/28/2012
by Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Foster
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs
3/28/2012 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- The Air Force Assistance Fund campaign kicked off here March 26 and will run through May 4. The campaign offers servicemembers an opportunity to lend support to fellow Airmen who are 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 servicemembers and their dependents.
The AFAS was founded in 1942 by Army Air Force personnel who wanted to help fellow Airmen through their struggles.
"I love talking about how it was started," said Dan Mazzuca, Hanscom's Air Force Aid Society officer. "It was founded by Air Force members for Air Force members and is supported by Air Force members. That's what makes our program so special."
Air Force-wide, the society helped more than 40,000 Airmen and their families with nearly $18 million in assistance in 2011, 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. Last year, Hanscom received more than $53,000 in loans, grants, community programs and scholarships from AFAS.
The following community-based programs are all funded by AFAS: Respite care, Give Parents a Break, child care for volunteers, child care for PCS, Car Care Because We Care and Bundles for Babies.
Most of the community-based programs are available only to Air Force service members and their families. The exception is Bundles for Babies, which is open to active duty, guard and reserve members and their spouses of all branches of service, as well as Department of Defense civilians.
The AFAS also offers educational grants and scholarships to college bound children and spouses of active duty Air Force personnel and retirees.
"We've more than doubled the amount of scholarships awarded at Hanscom," said Mazzuca. "Last year we granted five and this year we've awarded 12 $2,000 scholarships to college-bound Air Force dependents and military spouses pursuing an undergraduate degree."
The core mission of the Air Force Aid Society is to provide worldwide emergency financial assistance to active duty, guard, reserve, retirees and their eligible family members from all branches of service. This assistance is provided in the form of an interest free loan with a payment schedule tailored to meet the needs of each individual client.
"One of the biggest changes this year was with the Falcon loan program," said Mazzuca. "Prior to March 2011, Falcon loans provided a maximum of $500 and were limited to two in a career. That maximum has now been increased to $750 with a career limit of four loans. Although the loan processed is streamlined, they are only for emergency needs, just like standard loans. Anyone that qualifies for a Falcon loan will likely be in and out of the office with a check in 30 minutes."
Another way AFAS provides financial assistance is through the Emergency Travel program.
"One area of financial assistance we are most proud of is our Emergency Travel program. We have a contracted travel agency that books air travel at a discounted rate when a military member or their spouse needs to travel home due to a sick family member or death in the family," said Mazzuca. "We then convert the cost of the ticket into an interest free loan so no money has to be provided up front. In fact, during the last 12 months we've saved Hanscom servicemembers over $2,200 in emergency airfare."
Servicemembers do not need to be on emergency leave or need Red Cross notification to qualify for the Emergency Travel program.
"Military service has unique challenges, many of which can put a financial strain on military members and their families," said Mazzuca. "You need an organization that can meet those needs and have a positive impact. That's what the Air Force Aid Society is all about."
For more information about the Air Force Aid Society, contact the Airman and Family Readiness Center at 781-225-2765, or apply for assistance online at www.afas.org.
Those who wish to contribute to AFAF should contact their unit point of contact, or visit the AFAF website, www.afassistancefund.org, and complete the contribution form.
Hanscom AFAF installation project officers
Capt. Carmen Sowers: 781-225-4239
Capt. Ishaovbua Ayeni: 781-225-2399