By Monica Mendoza
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Last year, Peterson Airmen and their families received $181,000 in financial help through the Air Force Assistance Fund and its programs.
Some of the money was given as interest-free loans to help Airmen during family emergencies. Some of the money was granted to Airmen for education and some of the money was used to help parents with child care during a permanent change of station move or other stressful times.
“These programs would not be available to our Airmen and their families without the contributions made to the Air Force Assistance Fund,” said Hugo Escobar, Airman and Family Readiness Center consultant who works with the Air Force Aid Society to provide emergency and educational financial assistance to Peterson Airmen.
By now, all active duty Airmen and retired military personnel on Peterson Air Force Base have heard about the Air Force Assistance Fund campaign. A team of more than 50 unit representatives has a goal to make 100 percent contact with every Airman and all retired military personnel on base and tell them about the campaign.
There are four programs supported by the AFAF: the Air Force Aid Society; the Air Force Enlisted Village; the Air Force Village; and the LeMay Foundation.
The Air Force Aid Society provides emergency funds and money for education to Airmen and their families. Last year, Peterson Airmen and their families received $128,000 in interest-free loans and $5,000 from the Air Force Aid Society for educational programs.
There also is help for retired military personnel through the Air Force Enlisted Village and the Air Force Village, both retirement communities for surviving spouses. Finally, the LeMay Foundation provides financial assistance to military retirees and spouses.
“The great thing about this campaign is that 95 cents or more of every dollar is spent on the AFAF mission, assisting Air Force members and their families,” said Master Sgt. Daniel Stellabotte, 21st Force Support Squadron and one of three AFAF installation project officers. “Our efforts that start today will help those who are serving and have served.”
The 2011 AFAF campaign on Peterson AFB runs through May 6 and the Peterson goal is to raise $91,615.
Senior Master Sgt. John Bentivegna, 76th Space Control Squadron superintendent and one of three AFAF installation project managers, armed volunteer unit representatives with facts, brochures, posters and donation forms during an AFAF campaign kickoff breakfast meeting March 29.
There are two ways to contribute to the AFAF — payroll deduction plan allotments and cash, Sergeant Bentivenga said. All donations are voluntary and private. Military retires also, for the first time, can use a payroll deduction to contribute to the campaign.
“That was an exciting change this year,” Sergeant Bentivegna said.
Col. Jim Jennings, 21st Space Wing vice commander, said the AFAF campaign is crucial to Peterson AFB Airmen. The last thing Airmen should worry about when tragedy hits is money, he said.
“When I was a young captain, my family and I had a tragic event in our life and (the Air Force Aid Society) helped us through it with their generosity,” he said. “And, that helped change my perspective forever of how they go out and help us – the Airmen.”
2011 Air Force Assistance Fund campaign
l If you would like to donate to the 2011 AFAF and your unit does not have a unit representative, contact the installation project officers: Senior Master Sgt. John Bentivegna at 554-1734; Master Sgt. Daniel Stellabotte at 556-9226; or 2nd Lt. Kevin Slaughter at 556-4462.