News: Help Air Force Aid Society help you
RAF MILDENHALL, England -- When times are tough and that last dollar is stretched a little too thin, the Air Force Aid Society can step in to help out.
Although it operates as a private non-profit organization that is not an official military organization, the AFAS was incorporated in 1942 as the official charity of the U.S. Air Force.
The AFAS service is totally free and confidential, said Cynthia Harrison, RAF Mildenhall AFAS staff adviser.
According to their website at www.AFAS.org, the AFAS's primary mission, is to help relieve financial distress sometimes experienced by airmen and their families, and to also assist with the financial necessities of attaining their higher educational goals.
The society began in 1942 after General Henry "Hap" Arnold became concerned about the unique hardships that members of his Army Air Forces met during World War II. Arnold wanted a national organization that could provide financial emergency assistance to the wives and children of members who had fallen in the war and assure the availability of educational assistance to those families as well.
All active duty and retired Air Force members, along with their dependents, are eligible for AFAS assistance. The AFAS also helps the dependents of deceased Air Force personnel who died on active duty or in retired status, according to information on the AFAS website.
AFAS offers interest-free loans and grants for short term or one-time emergencies such as food, rent and utilities. They also help with car repair and emergency travel requirements, according to the AFAS website.
The AFAS can also step in to assist during times of national or personal tragedies or disasters, such as after a home fire or flood. The society reviews all requests for assistance and tries to help if the assistance falls within the general scope of the AFAS charter.
The AFAS offers scholarships and assistance for parents. They provide free childcare during permanent change of station, and monthly during the "Give Parents a Break" program for parents experiencing extra stress, such as during deployments, said Harrison. Also offered is Respite Care for primary caregivers of critically ill or severely handicapped family members. Other community programs include the car care vouchers for free vehicle inspections and oil changes.
The AFAS primarily relies on individual donations to fund its charitable activities, though they put some of the money into investments to earn income. The income from the investments are used to supplement annual contributions so that all financial assistance needs for members can be met whether it's for emergencies, education or just community enhancement programs.
Every dollar donated to the AFAS goes to directly assisting the Air Force members and their families, so the AFAS will always accept donations, whenever possible, so they can continue to provide financial assistance for Air Force personnel, said Harrison.
The easiest way to contribute to the Air Force Aid is during the Air Force Assistance Fund drive, said Harrison. The AFAS does not receive funds from the Combined Federal Campaign and must therefore rely on donations, fundraising events and the Air Force Assistance Fund drive.
In 2011, the AFAS received almost $6.3 million in donations, but gave out nearly $18 million in assistance to more than 40,000 Air Force members and their families. According to the AFAS website, 94 percent of the emergency assistance dollars went to active duty members and their families in ranks technical sergeant and below, with the remainder going to other active duty, retired, widowed, and Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve members.
"There is no need for personnel to be ripped off by pay day-loan companies or to get buried under debt during times of financial stress when AFAS is here to help," said Harrison. "AFAS provides [services to] our personnel and their families in times of need."
Local American Red Cross offices can also provide emergency travel financial assistance if there is no military base or post nearby, according to the AFAS website. The Red Cross can provide this assistance outside of normal AFAS operation hours such as evenings, holidays and weekends.
For additional information regarding the AFAS, visit www.afas.org or contact the A&FRC at DSN 238-3406.
Date Posted:06.25.2012 12:26
Location:RAF MILDENHALL, ENG, GB
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