AFAF gives all Airmen a chance to pay it forward

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NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — It’s Sept. 12, 2005. Senior Airman Dennis Hutchison is recovering from a hard day’s work on the flightline of Robbins Air Force Base, Georgia, when he receives a call that tragedy had struck.

“I got a notification from my family that my father had passed away,” Hutchison said. “I immediately contacted my supervisor, he got me in touch with the (first sergeant), and they asked me about my travel plans.”

Like many young Airmen, Hutchison’s paychecks barely covered his living expenses, so he didn’t have the means to travel from Robbins AFB to his hometown in Missouri.

“So my supervisor and shirt talked to me about Air Force Aid, and I told them ‘No I have family that I can get some money from, make ends meet and kind of struggle to get through it,’ but they said no and took me to the Airman and Family Readiness Center to see about getting a loan,” Hutchison said. “The shirt really pushed it down my neck. I had never heard of the program before, I mean it was probably briefed at roll calls, but I’m sure I was kind of spaced out just thinking about what tasks I needed to get done that day at work.”

After receiving an interest-free loan of about $1,000, Hutchison said he was able to grieve with family at home and get back to base without feeling the financial burden he would’ve otherwise felt.

“My payment plan was about $100 a month, so $50 a paycheck. Interest free, taken directly out of my paycheck, so I didn’t have to go to finance or do anything really,” Hutchison said.

Now a master sergeant and a production superintendent in the 57th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Tomahawks Aircraft Maintenance Unit, Hutchison relishes the chance to champion the Air Force Assistance Fund and the help it can provide any Airman in need.

“It definitely helped me when I needed it,” Hutchison said. “Times were tight. I was a senior airman so there wasn’t a whole lot of money to spend, and I was living in an apartment by myself that was far from base and I had a lot bills, so I definitely could not afford a trip without help. That’s why I’m usually a (point of contact) for the event now, I give some of the briefs about it, and just try to tell people that you might need this one day.”

One way Hutchison and Airmen of all ranks and ages can help their fellow Airmen is to donate to the AFAF drive, which supports and funds four different charities: the Air Force Aid Society, the Air Force Enlisted Village, the Air Force Villages Charitable Foundation, and the General and Mrs. Curtis E. LeMay Foundation, said 1st Lt. Adrienne Adams, the installation’s project officer for the 2015 drive.

“It’s an awesome program that’s helped so many people,” Adams said. “Each of the four charities do amazing things that can be life changing. Our goal for this year, between (Nellis and Creech AFBs, and the Nevada Test and Training Range) is $175,602, and the drive will run six weeks beginning March 23 and ending May 1.”

Hutchison encourages all Airmen to give to the drive, even if it may seem insignificant.

“If everybody on base gave $1 a month, $5 a month, or $10 a month, can you imagine the difference it could make?” Hutchison said. “To help an Airman in need, that money’s not really that big of a deal.”

For more information about the AFAF, contact your unit rep, 1st Lt. Adrienne Adams at 702-653-2204, Senior Master Sgt. Lee Rawlette at 702-652-2674, or visit www.afassistancefund.org.