It was 2006 and I was on the tail end of a combat tour in Afghanistan where, over the course of the deployment, I flew combat missions employing the Laser Guided Bombs and 30mm in support of Americans on the ground. With my squadron’s tour at an end, we were at a base in the Middle East redeploying my squadron’s last 4-ship of A-10s back to my duty station in Alaska. I was excited to return to my family and especially anxious to see my 5 month old daughter. I was riding a high. I was bulletproof… or so I thought.
The first night of the redeployment, at a lay-over air base on the Arabian Peninsula, I was awakened in the middle of the night. My sister contacted the American Red Cross who tracked down my flight and notified a squadron supervisor that my father, who was recovering from a stroke suffered 6 months prior, was in a spiraling descent. They relayed that he had suffered another stroke and he was fading fast. Hours later, I received another call that he had passed and there I sat, in the middle of the redeployment, 6000 miles from my grieving family, and days from returning to the States. I felt like I had just taken a round to the chest.
In the ensuing days, the Red Cross, in conjunction with a myriad of Air Force support services, assisted me in getting home to be with my family. While I couldn’t be there for my father’s last moments, I was able to help my family and be present for the funeral. Being there helped bring closure to very difficult chapter in my life. It could have turned out very differently if not for the services of the Red Cross. This was the first time I was the benefactor of a charitable organization.
I am honored to be the Chairman of the Local Federal Coordinating Committee of the Combined Federal Campaign for the greater part of the State of Arizona. For the 7 months I have held this position, I have had opportunity to consider the many ways that some of the over 4,400 charitable organizations of the Combined Federal Campaign have touched lives, including my own. Who among us has not had a friend, family member, or coworker affected by a serious medical condition? Who among us is so bulletproof that they believe they will never benefit from medical research? There are over 1000 medical charities in the 2013 CFC booklet. Giving to one of these charities is an investment in the future–possibly your family’s future…possibly your own.
In addition to health care organizations, CFC supports local charitable organizations that make up an important thread in the fabric of our Davis-Monthan community. Who does not know of an Airman that has benefited from the Family Support Center, Family Advocacy, Airmen Against Drunk Driving, Operation Warm Heart or the Airman’s Attic? All of these important organizations give back to the community in a variety of ways and they enjoy the support of CFC donations.
In 2012, more than 1,400 members of the DMAFB community gave more than $381,000 in support of CFC charities. So far in the 2013 campaign, less than 600 individuals have contributed $147,000. With the campaign scheduled to end Dec. 15, we are running short on time to meet the standard set last year. A very small donation can make a huge impact. If everyone gave a paltry $3.25 a month, we could meet our goal…to put it in perspective–$3.25 is about half the price of a value meal. Is it an investment you can afford not to make?
I encourage you to find your unit CFC representative. Thank them for their efforts to make CFC a success and if you choose to give, they can help. If you have already made a pledge, I thank you and applaud your decision. If you are considering making a pledge, I encourage you to do so. Someday the invisible shield of invincibility surrounding you or your family may falter. Your contributions now are an investment in the future if someday you find that you are not bulletproof.