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March 3, 2014 at 10:44am

Air Force Assistance Fund launches at McChord Field

Col. David Kumashiro (left), 62nd AW commander and Col. Tony Davit (right), 627th Air Base Group commander, sign their Air Force Assistance Fund forms as part of the Team McChord AFAF kick-off event at the McChord Field Chapel Support Center, Feb. 28.

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For the next five weeks, the Air Force Assistance Fund will give the men and women serving on McChord Field a chance to contribute to the greater good of their branch.

"The most important thing to know is that the AFAF contributes to four foundations and organizations and they all do things for the entire Air Force family as a whole," stated Senior Master Sgt. Erik Johnson, a program leader for 2014.

The AFAF exists to provide assistance to members of the Air Force, regardless of rank and whether they are still serving or retired. Active duty airmen, Air Guard partners, reservists are eligible to make contributions, though anyone can contribute by making direct contact with an Air Force representative or one of the four foundations/organizations.

Each individual who donates must select which organization they donate to; AFAF representatives do not endorse one over another.

The first option is the Air Force Village (AFV), a retirement community dedicated to caring for retired Air Force officers' widowed spouses who need financial assistance. The AFV, founded 50 years ago, provides a secure, comfortable environment where widow(er)s are surrounded by friends in a home they cannot provide for themselves.

Similarly, the Air Force Enlisted Village (AFEV) was established in 1975 to ensure that surviving spouses of retired enlisted airmen are not living in less than desirable conditions or homeless. AFEV also serves the mothers of active duty and retired airmen and provides temporary housing to surviving spouses of enlisted members who die while on active duty.

Next, there is the LeMay Foundation, founded by General and Mrs. Curtis LeMay, which awards grants to the surviving spouses of both enlisted and officer retirees. In 2012, LeMay Foundation gave over $464,838 in assistance that benefitted widows with monthly grants to augment incomes that fall below the poverty line and it also provided one-time grants to assist with needs like hearing aids, dental care, and minor home repairs.

Finally, the Air Force Aid Society (AFAS) has provided worldwide emergency assistance to airmen and their families since 1942 and sponsored educational and proactive community programs to help improve their quality of life. Whether the emergency is a death in the family, a car repair, or basic living expenses, AFAS can step in. There are also $6 million in needs-based education grants available to eligible spouses and dependent children.

In 2013, AFAS direct assistance totaled over $17.4 million across the Air Force, which equaled approximately 75,000 assists to airmen and families in need.

According to Johnson, 2013 donations earmarked for the AFAS from McChord Field were tallied at a little over $5,000; in turn, McChord Field airmen and families received close to $160,000 in assistance that ranged from community programs to dental care.

"Our goal this year is to reach and contact 100 percent of the eligible contributors," said Johnson, who is part of a team of more than 30 airmen working on the fund. "We are all working together to make this a successful year."

The Air Force Assistance Fund campaign will run from now until April 11. To donate or get further information, contact Johnson at erik.johnson.2@us.af.mil or Master Sgt. Leda Weslow at leda.weslow@us.af.mil. Each unit also has unit project officers who can help.

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