Questions and Answers About the Air Force Aid Society

Q: What is the Air Force Aid Society?

A: The Air Force Aid Society (AFAS) is the official charity of the United States Air Force incorporated in 1942 as a non-profit organization whose mission is to help relieve financial distress of Air Force members and their families and to assist them in financing their higher education goals.

The roots of the Society go back to 1942 in response to General Henry "Hap" Arnold's concern that members of his Army Air Forces faced unique hardships in meeting the challenges of World War II. He wanted a national organization which could provide emergency assistance to the wives and children of war victims and assure the availability of educational assistance to those families.

Q: Is the Air Force Aid Society an official USAF organization?

A: No. The AFAS is a private non-profit organization. However, since the Society exists ONLY to help Air Force people there are close ties to the official Air Force. The Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower and Personnel acts as the Society's principal liaison with the Air Force, publishing a directive authorizing support for AFAS activities at base level.

Q: Where does the AFAS get its funding?

A: The AFAS has always relied on individual donations to fund its activities. Air Force people have generously contributed to the Society throughout its 73-year history. Early donations funded emergency assistance programs and allowed the Society to put some money aside in an investment fund for contingencies and future programs. That investment fund now earns income which is used to supplement annual contributions so that all emergency assistance needs can be met, education programs can be strengthened, and community enhancement initiatives can thrive.

Q: Why isn’t AFAS part of the CFC?

A: AFAS is one of four Air Force charities that receive donations through the Air Force Assistance Fund (AFAF) campaign. These AFAF charities are different from the CFC charities in that they provide services exclusively to the military (active/retired/guard/reserves and their families)–and deny service to the general public. The CFC was created in 1957 to provide a single fundraising campaign where Federal/military employees could combine all fundraising for the civilian community into a single annual campaign. The idea of combining the AFAF campaign with the CFC campaign was tried in 1972-1973. The result was that both the CFC and AFAF policy makers were unhappy. CFC policy makers objected to including the AFAF charities that discriminated by providing service only to Air Force members because they felt it violated the core reason for the CFC which was to open federal/military doors to the outside charities. Contributions to the internal AFAF charities plummeted as their mission became lost in the larger CFC campaign. As a result, the first totally independent AFAF campaign was held in 1974 and has continued as a single annual separate internal campaign since.

Q: Do donations cover all AFAS assistance disbursements each year?

A: No, donations only cover about one third of the funds obligated each year.  The Society must rely on paybacks of existing loans and investment fund income to satisfy emergency  needs.

Q: How much of donated dollars is spent on AFAS programs?

A: EVERY DOLLAR DONATED to to the Society supports our emergency assistance, education, and community enhancement programs. In 2014, the Society received almost $5.4 million in donations, including $3.9 million from the Air Force Assistance Fund drive. During the same year, AFAS provided over $16.9 million in total support to Airmen and their families. This results in a 313% ratio of direct support to contributions. Fortunately, loan paybacks made during the year and investment portfolio income allow the Society to satisfy 100% of emergency assistance requirements in addition to funding the education and community enhancement programs. The returns generated by the Society's investment portfolio also enable the Society to pay for the conservative operating costs necessary to run the organization.

Q: How much money do you keep in reserve?

A: The Air Force Aid Society has worked hard to build up our reserve fund over the years.  Income generated by investing our reserve is critical to fully fund our programs developed to assist Airmen and their families. By the end of 2014, the Society's investment portfolio was valued at approximately $185.9 million. These funds are subject to the careful oversight of the AFAS Headquarters managerial staff and the AFAS Board of Trustees with professional investment oversight provided by a third party investment advisor hired to help manage the portfolio. Since the Society's program spending averages approximately $17.5 million per year and we receive about $6.5 million in donations annually, the Society must pull from the reserve investment portfolio to fund the normal annual program requirements and overhead costs. Our reserve also gives us the flexibility to adapt to change and be prepared to assist with significant unforeseen emergencies such as natural disasters.

Q: How many Air Force people did the Society help in 2014?

A: Over 61,000 assists were provided to Air Force members and their families with over $16.9 million in assistance last year.



Q: Who is eligible for AFAS assistance?

A: Active duty and retired Air Force members and their dependents are eligible for AFAS assistance, as are the dependents of deceased Air Force personnel who died on active duty or in retired status.  Air National Guard and Air Force Reservists are also eligible when serving on extended active duty over 15 days under Title 10, U.S. Code.


Q: How are AFAS Sections organized in the other words, who does someone at base level contact for assistance?

A: AFAS Sections are located at bases throughout the world. Most are located in Airman and Family Readiness Centers, with a few in the Military Personnel Flight. In all cases, the local AFAS Officer is familiar with the conditions and people so personal attention can be given to every request for assistance.

Q: What if an Air Force member needs help but isn't near an Air Force Base?

A: AFAS maintains a cross-servicing agreement with emergency relief organizations of the Army, Coast Guard and Navy/Marine Corps so Air Force people can request help through those offices when no AF facility is relatively close to the member/family. Local Red Cross offices will also provide assistance when there is no military base or post nearby and then will be reimbursed by Hq AFAS.

Q: What kind of assistance does the AFAS normally provide?

A: Most AFAS interest-free loans and grants are for short term or one-time emergencies such as food, rent, and utilities. We also help with car repair and emergency travel requirements. Each case, regardless of the request, is treated individually, and the Society will review all requests for assistance and try to help if the assistance falls within the general thrust of the AFAS charter.

Q: Does the Society have any other programs?

A: The Society is always examining ways to be more responsive to the Air Force community. Programs such as "Give Parents a Break"  enable base officials to offer periodic child care at specified evening and weekend times. This is particularly helpful when a spouse is deployed or other personal emergencies occur. Other programs, such as Bundles for Babies, Car Care Because We Care, Child Care for PCS, the Phone Home program Youth Employment Skills (YES) are currently available at many bases.



Q: It's obvious that the AFAS has active programs and ambitious goals. But WHO DO YOU REALLY HELP?

A: The numbers speak for themselves! 89% of emergency assistance dollars went to active duty members and their families in grades E-6 and below. The remaining support went to other active duty, retirees, widows, and ANG/Reserve members.

Q: What programs are sponsored by the Society to help Air Force members pay for education costs?

A: The Society currently offers the General Henry "Hap" Arnold Education Grant Program which helps offset some expenses of higher education by providing $2,000 grants to dependent children and spouses. These grants may be used toward payment of tuition, books and fees, or other direct education expenses. The program is based upon financial need and students must apply every year to demonstrate financial need to be eligible.  Additionally, the Society's Education Fund also supports other education programs such as our Merit Scholarship of $5000 to at least 10 qualifying incoming Freshmen and our Supplemental Education Loan Program.

Copyright 2012 Air Force Aid Society