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Being Sure To Take Care of Our Own!

  • Published
  • By Col. John McDonald
  • 43rd Airlift Wing Commander
The Air Force Assistance Fund Drive kicks off Monday with a breakfast for Squadron Key Workers at the Airman and Family Readiness Center. 

What is really critical is that we all are Squadron Key Participants as we focus on crushing our goal of $55,000. Last year we raised more than $84,500 -- there is no doubt we can surpass last year's total with everyone's involvement. 

The ground truth about the AFAF is that it's all about us taking care of us -- Airmen taking care of Airmen -- which is the ultimate underpinning of the Wingman culture! There is no better way to give back to each other. 

AFAF contributions can be designated to support three different funds targeted at different beneficiaries. For example, the Air Force Enlisted Village Fund provides a safe, secure and dignified place for indigent surviving spouses of retired Air Force enlisted personnel. 

The Village's primary goal and focus is to "Provide a Home," and financial assistance to these spouses. The Air Force Village Fund is dedicated to retirement living, with access to continuing health care, for military officers who served honorably and their spouses, with priority to retired Air Force Officer widows and widowers in need of financial assistance. 

Your contributions can also be targeted to support the General and Mrs. Curtis E. Lemay Foundation, which helps widows of all Air Force Retirees, both officers and enlisted, through financial grants of assistance. And finally, but probably the most common fund supported by the AFAF is the Air Force Aid Society. 

The AFAS promotes the Air Force mission by helping "to relieve distress of Air Force members and their families and assisting them to finance their education." It is rooted in the original Army Air Corps and the World War II Army Air Forces, whose members wanted to "take care of their own." 

Through the years, AFAS has become increasingly effective in helping individuals with personal emergencies, as well as extremely useful when used by Commanders to help solve personnel problems in their units. 

Since its creation in 1942 as a non-profit organization, the AFAS has helped countless members of the Air Force community. Aid can be given for food, rent, utilities, essential car repairs, and for certain medical and dental care. 

In 2008 more than $130,000 went to Pope families through the Air Force Aid Society. Emergency assistance loans and grants totaled more than $100,000 and education grants and community enhancement programs added up to approximately $32,000 each. Community enhancement programs included Bundles for Babies, Car Care Because We Care, Heart Link, phone cards and Give Parents a Break, to name a few. 

It should be crystal clear; giving to the AFAF is absolutely the right thing to do and really has a tremendous impact on helping out Pope Airmen. Our success in supporting this cause is directly tied to and proves again your Individual Actions Matter --choose to be an Airmen making a positive difference in the lives of others! 

Speaking about individual actions having an impact, I hope everyone was able to listen to Todd Crandell speak last Friday about how he overcame his seemingly insurmountable challenges with drugs and alcohol. Even if you have never struggled with an addiction, his message provided tools for your tool bag to be a better person, a better supervisor, even a better parent -- tools to better yourself and to contribute to helping others. 

Mr. Crandell proved that individual actions can be positive or destructive, but always matter! He made a conscious decision every time he chose to drink in excess or to use drugs. His actions placed him squarely on a path of self-destruction to the point of almost killing himself. But when he made the decision to quit using drugs and alcohol, he slowly began to rebuild his life. He channeled his energy to change his ways. 

His message was powerful and it contained a challenge for all: get involved so we can make a positive impact with our own life and in the lives of others. Mr. Crandell was very clear, your power is within your heart and mind. He stressed though the body might tire, your heart and mind are easily strong enough to carry you to success, whatever your challenge. Thanks to Capt. Jack Warburton and his team for putting this event together.
Finally, I am constantly challenging you to be Airmen with impact, so check this out -- this is definitely Wow! Senior Airman Nathaniel Hardaway and Senior Airman Freddy Rengifo from our medical group were playing in an intramural basketball game Feb. 19 when a player from the JSOC team collapsed. The individual was not breathing and had no heart rate. 

Our two medics, assisted by one of our former staff sergeants visiting from Travis AFB, immediately started CPR and hooked the member to the fitness center AED machine. 
The member was alert and responsive by the time the ambulance from Fort Bragg arrived. 

Their quick and decisive actions were life saving! Airman Hardaway and Airman Rengifo are definitely Airmen with Impact who realize I AM, and the results were absolutely Popetastic! 

Again this week Pope Airmen continue to shine with more Air Mobility Command awards.
Congratulations to the AMC Vehicle Operations NCO of the Year, Staff Sgt. Christopher Poole and the AMC Traffic Management Airman of the Year, Senior Airman Jesus Gutierrez, both from our 43rd Logistics Readiness Squadron. Both Sergeant Poole and Airman Gutierrez provided exceptional support to the Pope community during 2008 and I have every confidence they will represent us extremely well at the Air Force level. 

This commentary is full of examples that prove your Individual Actions Matter and should motivate you to commit to the pledge with me, "I AM responsible, I AM accountable, and I AM going to make a positive difference!" 

Have a Popetastic Week and always strive to be an impact Airman with WOW!