4/18/2014 - EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska --
Taking care of our own is a fundamental belief within Air Force culture. As Wingmen, we are expected give, whether through time, emotional support, or money, as a "Commitment to Caring" for the Airmen surrounding us.
The 2014 Air Force Assistance Fund, now in its 41st year, is underway at Eielson, offering a chance to support Airmen present and past by giving to one or all of the four Air Force charities.
"The AFAF campaign is important because it directly benefits Airmen here on Eielson and (also) allows those of us still on active duty to give back to those who have served a career in the Air Force and are now in need ," said 1st Lt. Christopher Edlund, Eielson AFAF campaign project officer. "Even if someone hasn't directly benefited from the AFAF charities, it is almost a guarantee that they will be in need or supervise someone who is in need at some point during their Air Force career. Paying it forward now ensures that the AFAF charities will exist in the future and will be available when the time comes."
People can donate with a cash or check lump sum, or payroll allotment, and may designate how the donation is distributed amongst the benefited programs.
The four charities include the Air Force Aid Society, which takes care of Airmen and their families with emergency assistance, educational loans, spouse tuition and base enhancement projects; the Air Force Village and Air Force Enlisted Village, which provide retirees' widows and widowers with a home and caring community among fellow Air Force family members; and the Lemay Foundation, which seeks out and provides retirees' widows and widowers with short to long-term financial grants.
"The Air Force Aid Society alone provided almost $98,000 to support Airmen on Eielson in 2013," said Edlund. "Programs like Bundles for Babies, Heart Link, vehicle repairs and many other community programs were funded through donations made during AFAF. We get back a lot more than we donate, so it is really important that we play our part in helping support the campaign."
According to Edlund, Eielson's campaign goal is $33,543. Now in week 4 of the 6-week campaign, the Eielson community has reached 58 percent of that goal. As part of the campaign, however, it's just as important that every member is contacted and educated on the purpose of the campaign, and understands the process for donating.
"Our primary goal for the campaign is to make sure that 100% of the members on Eielson who are eligible to donate have the opportunity to do so at some point during the campaign," said Edlund. "We have unit project officers at each group and squadron who are ensuring that one of their key workers makes personal contact with each individual."
All money raised during the campaign, which began March 24, goes directly to supporting the four charities.
"Your generous donations support current and former members of our Air Force family that need our help," said Gen. Herbert Carlisle, Pacific Air Forces commander, in a letter to Airmen. "Your continued support will ensure that much needed services like emergency financial assistance and help to our retired Air Force widows and widowers are maintained."
Donation forms are available through unit points of contact and can be submitted through May 2.
Regardless of how a person donates, AFAF, a program by Airmen for Airmen, offers an easy way to directly affect the lives of fellow servicemembers through charitable giving.
"Day in and day out you never cease to amaze me with how you accomplish the mission and take care of each other," said Carlisle. "This campaign is yet another opportunity to mutually support our fellow Airmen."
For more information on how to support AFAF, contact a unit representative, or call 377-1216 or 377-1015.