AFAF highlight: Air Force Aid Society
HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Col. Lester A. Weilacher, 66th Air Base Group commander, discusses Air Force Assistance Fund information before signing his contribution form with Airman 1st Class Sabine Bien-Aime and 2nd Lt. David Lam, unit and installation project officers, March 25. The base’s AFAF campaign continues through May 3. (U.S. Air Force photo by Linda LaBonte Britt)
Posted 3/27/2013 Updated 3/27/2013
by Sarah Olaciregui
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs
3/27/2013 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- The Air Force Assistance Fund campaign kicked off here March 25 and will run through May 3. 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. Each week of the campaign, one of the four charities will be featured. This week 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.
"The Air Force Aid Society was started by Air Force members and is still supported by Air Force members today," said Dan Mazzuca, Hanscom's Air Force Aid Society officer. "It's really a special program that takes the financial strain off servicemembers during financial emergencies and enables them to concentrate on the mission."
Air Force-wide, the society helped more than 40,000 Airmen and their families with nearly $18 million in assistance in 2012, according to an Air Force Aid Society fact sheet.
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 $57,000 in loans, grants, community programs and scholarships from AFAS.
Mazzuca notes that emergency financial assistance is available to active duty military and their eligible family members, retired military personnel and their eligible family members, National Guard and Reserve personnel on extended active duty 15 days or more under Title 10 USC and spouses and dependent-age children of military personnel who died on active duty or in a retired status.
Other community-based programs funded by AFAS include respite care, Give Parents a Break, child care for volunteers, child care for PCS, Car Care Because We Care and Bundles for Babies.
"This year we have a goal to double the number of children enrolled in our Give Parents a Break program, which provides four hours of free childcare at the Child Development Center on the third Saturday of each month," said Mazzuca. "The purpose of this program is to offer eligible parents a few hours break from the stresses of parenting. To enroll in this program, the servicemember must have a certificate issued by the Airman and Family Readiness Center and be pre-registered at the CDC."
While most of the community-based programs are available only to Air Force servicemembers and their families, the exception is Bundles for Babies. This program 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 ten $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.
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," said Mazzuca. "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. 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 $4,600 in emergency airfare."
Servicemembers do not need to be on emergency leave or need Red Cross notification to qualify for the Emergency Travel program.
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
Lt. David Lam: 781-225-0144