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Air Force Assistance Society embodies good wingmanship

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. - -- When times get tough, knowing where to turn for help is critical.

For Airmen, that source is the Air Force Aid Society, where the concept of being a good wingman is put into practice.

This year's Air Force Assistance Fund drive is nearly complete, but there is still time to donate to the cause. So far $56,565, or about 60 percent, of the $94,162 goal for Peterson Air Force Base is met, with the campaign ending on May 13. The Air Force Assistance Fund is an annual effort to raise funds for the charitable affiliates that provide support to Air Force family members in need, including active duty, retirees, reservists, guard, dependents, and surviving spouses.

The bulk of the funds used at Peterson go to active-duty Airmen, said Erica Rosenberg, Air Force Aid Society officer for the base. Funds are used to bridge the gap in emergency situations when hardships occur. What the AFAS can offer is, among other things, interest free loans and grants depending on the situation.

Retired Master Sgt. Will Embry ran upon one of those emergency situations recently after he was laid off from his job. While he was without work Embry said the bills stacked up, and with a wife and four children, he ran out of options.

"I needed a loan to pay the utilities," Embry said.

The process was simple. He applied online and was contacted and asked to come in to the AFAS office.

"I was hoping and praying that anything would come through," Embry said. "Erica was great. She made a few calls because the utilities were going to be shut off in a couple of days. The same day she was able to issue a check and I was able to take care of everything."

Embry received an interest free loan through the AFAS. He said he also received financial planning advice to help him get back on track.

"As a retiree it was a relief to know that I was not forgotten," Embry said. "Erica showed compassion and she really cared about what we were going through. Where my pride would limit me, she made it easy to ask for help."

Rosenberg said taking care of Airmen is the main purpose of the AFAS.

"What we don't want is for Airmen to go without necessities of life like utilities and rent," she said. "And we do not want them to go to a place that will drown them in debt."

Rosenberg said AFAS community programs are often unknown. One that is not utilized often is free childcare. Whether it is for a date night, to run errands, a much needed break, or any other reason, parents can bring in children once per month for four hours at no cost. Dates for the care are set in advance and require a minimum of eight in attendance.

"If they have a deployed spouse, a special needs child or whatever they want to do, they can bring them in," Rosenberg said.

Care Because We Care is a program that provides a free oil change to dependents who have a deployed spouse. AFAS can help during Permanent Change of Station by making childcare available regardless of rank.

For more information, contact either your unit representative, Lt. Col. Paul Conteveros, 21st Space Wing representative at (719) 556-8905, or Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Pierce at (719) 556-4254.

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