Friday, March 21, 2014

Airmen helping Airmen

by Senior Airman Shannon Hall
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

3/21/2014 - DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Team Dyess held a luncheon March 3, to kick-off the Air Force Assistance Fund campaign. This campaign consists of four different charities that raise money to support active duty, retirees, reservists, guard members and dependents through financial stresses.

Hardships can occur at any time in someone's life and the Air Force has different avenues to help out Airmen during their military career and after.

"I contribute every year because I believe in the Air Force family," said Master Sgt. Brandy Wess, 7th Operations Group first sergeant. "We are members of an institution that takes care of one another, and I understand that my contribution is vital in helping my fellow Airmen through unfortunate events."

As a young Airman, Wess was an eyewitness to how the Air Force Assistance Fund campaign supports those in need.

"When I was an Airman, my son passed away after fighting in the neonatal intensive care unit for three weeks," Wess said. "I could not afford the service and funeral expenses, so my first sergeant coordinated with Air Force Aid to get me a grant.

I continue to be humbled by the support shown to me by my teammates. During an extremely emotional time, they stepped up and had my back," Wess said. "At my son's wake, eight of my wingmen stood behind me at parade rest in their service dress, forming a very protective semi-circle. My family was in awe at the sight. I knew my Air Force family was looking out for me and this mentality is why I became a first sergeant."

The campaign will run until April 11, with Team Dyess' goal this year being to reach $115,000 in donations. Squadron representatives will be visiting all squadrons to inform Airmen about the four charities, answer questions and assist in filling out donation slips for those who choose to do so. Any donation, regardless of the amount, can make a difference.

"Over $17.4 million assisted more than 75,000 Air Force members and their families last year, " said Ron Hooks, Air Force Aid Society officer. "Dyess alone assisted 244 members with $179,786."

Although some Airmen might be reluctant to request assistance, this is exactly why this campaign was created 73 years ago, Hooks said. Airmen can speak with their supervisors, first sergeants or go directly to the Airmen and Family Readiness Center if they ever find themselves in financial discomfort.

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