JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas –
The Air Force Assistance Fund campaign kicked off Monday at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland with a goal to raise $347,000 for the four charitable affiliates under the AFAF umbrella.
The kickoff was preceded by a breakfast, hosted by Joint Base San Antonio and held March 21 at the Gateway Club, for Lackland senior leaders and key workers. Chief Master Sgt. Gerardo Tapia, command chief master sergeant for Air Education and Training Command, spoke during the breakfast.
"The Aid Society doesn't solve all crises, but it does give commanders, first sergeants and supervisors another tool to help build resiliency in Airmen," Tapia said. "It can lighten the load during a time of crisis."
Tapia said last year the Aid Society gave almost $18 million in grants and interest-free loans for emergencies, educational assistance and quality of life community programs.
Tapia was reviewing the Comprehensive Airman Fitness Program when he was invited to speak and was drawn to the similarity between the fitness program and the Air Force Aid Society.
"Obviously the fitness program builds resiliency, but at the same time it allows people to ask for help without any repercussions," Tapia said. "Resiliency is what happens when a crisis is over."
Resiliency is an ability to recover from or adjust to misfortune or change according to the Merriam-Webster definition. Resilience is an important facet of recovery for Airmen as well as any military member who experiences trauma or severe injuries - perhaps as an aftermath to combat - and for health care workers who treat them, Tapia explained.
"Together we become stronger when we seek help, when we show compassion for others and when we celebrate our success," Tapia said. "If you're a leader, support it. If you can afford it, give to it. If you need it, ask for it."
The six-week campaign runs through May 3. It is an annual effort to raise money for the assistance fund's charitable partners, which include:
- Air Force Aid Society, which provides emergency assistance to Airmen and their families, and sponsors education and quality of life programs in communities;
- Air Force Enlisted Village, which provides homes for surviving spouses of retired enlisted Airmen;
- Air Force Villages, a retirement community that cares for retired Air Force officer widows who need financial assistance; and
- The Gen. and Mrs. Curtis LeMay Foundation, which awards grants to retired Airmen and their spouses in financial need.
Air Force active duty, retirees, reservists, National Guard and their dependents, including surviving spouses, can apply to one of the above affiliates for assistance.
In closing remarks Brig. Gen. Theresa Carter, commander, 502nd Air Base Wing and JBSA, urged support for the AFAF program.
For information about AFAF please contact Capt. Celeste Lukshis, JBSA campaign project officer at 803-931-6149; or Lt. Ryan Nichols, Lackland campaign project officer, at 945-5721. Additional information is also available at http://www.afassistancefund.org