AFAF assists those in need
By Master Sgt. Tim Cook, 366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs / Published March 18, 2011
MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho --
It's that time of year again, the time where all of the unit Air Force Assistance Fund representatives are canvassing their work centers, looking for people to donate money for several good causes. This is an opportunity for Airmen to help other Airmen who may be in need of assistance.
There are four organizations you can give to during the AFAF campaign, the Air Force Villages, Air Force Aid Society, the General and Mrs. Curtis E. Lemay Foundation and the Air Force Enlisted Village. These organizations aid Air Force personnel in an emergency, with their educational needs or with a secure retirement home for widows or widowers of Air Force members in need of financial assistance.
My first five years in the Air Force I never gave much thought to donating money to charities or for any type of good cause. It was only after a tragic event occurred in my life that I realized you never know when you may be on the receiving end of someone else's charitable contribution.
On Aug. 18, 1997, my son, Christopher, was born and then nine days later on Aug. 27, he passed away. Christopher had a ventricular septal defect, one of the most common congenital heart defects that occur at birth. Until the 27th, when his heart failed, Christopher had no symptoms of any condition, so I was totally unprepared for him to pass away.
I was a 23-year old senior airman at the time, didn't have any savings and I hadn't purchased life insurance for a nine-day-old, seemingly healthy baby boy.
So, what do you do when you have to purchase a cemetery plot, headstone, casket and pay for a funeral service when you find yourself in a situation like this? Like I said, I was totally unprepared for this, so I certainly had no clue.
I was fortunate enough to have a great First Sergeant who helped me through the situation and was educated about the services offered by the Air Force Aid Society. When I ended up with a bill for close to $2,000 he sent me to the Airman and Family Readiness Center where the Air Force Aid Society loaned me the money to cover the expenses. After the Air Force Aid officer dug into my finances and confirmed that I was in need of assistance, they turned the loan into a grant.
If it weren't for the generous contributions of the men and women serving in the Air Force I would have ended up with a stack of bills while I was dealing with the loss of my son.
For this reason, I will forever be grateful for those who give to the Air Force Assistance Fund, and I will always gladly do my part to make sure that an Airman in need of assistance receives what they need, when they need it most.