By Beatriz Swann (CMSgt, Ret)
Air Force Aid Society
I joined the U.S. Air Force in 1979 at the young age of 18. I knew the Air Force would offer opportunities that I would otherwise not have if I stayed in my hometown. What I thought would be a short stay in the military ended up being 33 years of service. I retired as a chief master sergeant in 2012 and began my second career as Emergency Assistance Caseworker with the Air Force Aid Society, supporting Airmen and their families every day.
As a young airman, I knew about the Air Force Aid Society. It came up each year during the Air Force Assistance Fund campaign – I understood AFAS was where to go if you had an emergency financial situation – but that’s really all I knew. Later on, in my supervisory positions, I encouraged my Airmen to use AFAS if they needed it but still did not know the full scope of what AFAS was all about.
During my last position before retirement as chief, Sustainment and Policy (AF/REP), I worked very closely with the Airman and Family Readiness Center programs. It was then that I began to understand what the Air Force Aid Society was all about. Supporting Airmen and their families was a cause close to my heart and something I felt strongly about. I knew once I retired I wanted to continue the tradition of “Airmen helping Airmen,” but wasn’t sure where I would land in pursuing my second career. The stars must have been in alignment as they say. I was ready to begin job searching and there it was…a position had become available, and AFAS was looking for qualified applicants. I was elated when I was notified of my selection to be part of the AFAS team.
In getting fully acclimated with my new position, I was truly surprised to learn the extent of assistance provided to Airmen! There is so much more AFAS is able to provide than just getting you through a tough financial spot. We assist our Wounded Warriors, we help purchase cranial helmets for children, we help obtain service animals, we offer education grants and scholarships for dependent children and spouses, and so much more! It was truly enlightening to learn how many ways we can support the Air Force family.
One thing I wish more Airmen knew is that everyone hits a hard time in their lives. There is nothing wrong with asking for help! Receiving help from AFAS is a way to get back on your feet and relieve stress so you can stay mission ready. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help – that’s what we’re here to do – support Airmen and their families!