AFAF provides assistance in emergencies



by Master Sgt. Michael Voss
Air University Public Affairs


5/2/2013 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. - -- Today marks the end of this year's Air Force Assistance Fund campaign, and, as of last week Maxwell has reached 99 percent of its installation goal of $81,491. Fortunately, Airmen still have the opportunity to donate.

For the last six weeks, unit representatives have visited offices asking members to donate to the campaign that supports Airmen.

"The AFAF is absolutely a worthy cause that helps Airmen who need it," said Capt. Neysa Etienne, who, along with Capt. Cassandra Bates, is a Maxwell AFAF installation project officer. "We have little say on when a crisis hits, and having an organization that helps during those times is remarkable."

Started by the Air Force Aid Society in 1974, the AFAF has provided loans and grants for financial emergencies ranging from basic living expenses to emergency travel.

Each year, AFAF representatives strive to reach goals, established by the Air Force Personnel Center, based on the base population and donation potential. At Maxwell, for example, there are 2,940 service members. If everyone gave 1/10th of 1 percent of their base pay, the installation giving potential would equal $160,982. AFPC realistically figures on a potential based on half of that amount.

"Last year, the AFAF representatives at Maxwell raised more than $100,000," said Etienne. "But AFAS alone gave $82,000 back to Airmen in the Maxwell community."

During 2012, AFAS provided $17.8 million to 40,000 Air Force members and families, $1.9 million for community enhancement projects and $5.8 million in educations benefits, including $220,000 to the Spouses Tuition Assistance Program.

Some of those dollars helped a base family.

"During that one conversation with a doctor, our lives were placed on hold," said Lt. Col. Michael Olvera, course director at Air University's International Officer School, about a medical emergency that impacted him and his family. "One minute everything was great and then our entire family was told to get to Ramstein as soon as possible. There was no way we could afford that, but luckily the Red Cross notified AFAS, who provided us a grant."

The four charities Airmen can contribute to during AFAF are AFAS, the Lemay Foundation, the Air Force Enlisted Village and the Air Force Villages Charitable Foundation.

"Historically, Maxwell has always met and exceeded the AFAF goal, and it is looking like we are going to again this year," said Etienne. "Even though we have had a 13 percent drop in participation this year, it's been a generous 20 percent who participated so far that have allowed us to reach 99 percent of our installation goal."