AFAS: Every dollar donated helps

  • Published
  • By Capt. David Weller
  • 86th Medical Group special needs coordinator
This may seem like an odd time in our nation's history to talk about giving money to a charitable organization. With sequestration, cutbacks and furlough--the messages from Washington don't inspire hope for a better or brighter future. This is where all Airmen step up and help each other out. While the rest of the country may worry about how bad things are, we step up and ask how can we help? We have a unique opportunity during this charity drive to directly improve one or more of our fellow Airmen's lives.

Every April, the Air Force kicks off its annual Air Force Aid Society charity drive. The AFAS is the official charity dating back to 1942. The AFAS mission is to help relieve financial distress of Airmen and their families and to assist them in financing their higher education goals. AFAS accomplishes their mission by providing interest-free loans and grants for short-term or one-time emergencies such as food, rent and utilities. They can also help with car repair and emergency travel requirements.

You might have heard stories of other charitable organizations collecting money but not distributing very much of that money to the people they are supposed to help. This is definitely not the case for the AFAS; every dollar donated supports AFAS emergency assistance, education and community enhancement programs.

In 2012, AFAS providedĀ more thanĀ $17.8 million in support to 40,000 Airmen and their families. That $17.8 million was broken down into $10.1 million dollars in emergency assistance going toward funeral expenses or emergency travel; $5.8 million in education programs like education grants or spouse tuition assistance; $1.9 million in community outreach programs like Give Parents a Break and phone cards for deployed Airmen.

That sounds great on paper, but who gets the assistance? Eighty-nine percent of emergency assistance dollars went to active duty members and their families in grades E-6 and below.

If we are able to achieve 50 percent active duty participation in this drive, AFAS will award a cash reward to Ramstein.

The drive is going on right now. Each squadron has a representative in charge of contacting its members and providing information about the drive. Please take time to donate something. If everyone sacrificed the price of one fast-food meal a month, we would be able to exceed our goal.