By Capt. Dena Burke
21st Space Wing Judge Advocate Office
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — On June 11, a fire erupted in the Black Forest, approximately 15 miles north of Peterson AFB. The fire is now contained, but more than 14,000 acres burned, 500 homes were destroyed and two people died. Some people lost everything.
An integral part of working for the federal government is service before self, so it is a natural desire to want to help the victims of the Black Forest Fire. And there are many avenues to do so. Nonetheless, under the Joint Ethics Regulation, service members and Department of Defense civilian employees may not conduct fundraising as an official activity or use official government communication systems or resources. Examples of fundraising activities that are not allowed under the JER include, but are not limited to, sending a work email to colleagues soliciting for donations for a nonprofit organization associated with helping fire victims, physically collecting money in the workplace for victims and engaging in a fundraising activity using official duty rank, title or position.
A private organization may hold a fundraiser away from the workplace at Peterson AFB, for example, in the entrance or lobby of a building. Depending on the internal bylaws and constitution of the private organization, it may be permissible for the organization to raise funds to help fire victims. These fundraisers must go through an official approval process, which includes gaining approval from the building manager where the fundraiser will be held, legal, the 21st Force Support Squadron commander and public health if food is to be prepared or sold. A private organization fundraiser request should be submitted to Corazon Miller, 556-4266, at least two weeks prior to the proposed fundraising event.
While we all want to help the victims, we must ensure that our standards of professionalism and ethics are maintained. Service members and DOD civilians should ensure that the JER and other applicable regulations are adhered to when engaging in off-duty fundraising activities. The Gazette recently published an informative article listing where individuals can both give and receive assistance: http://gazette.com/how-to-get-help-give-help/article/1502394. For information contact JA at 556-4871.