Taking care of each other: In combat, in garrison, in life

  • Published
  • By Col. Kris Beasley
  • 82nd Training Wing vice commander
Each week, more than 200 new Airmen in training arrive here at Sheppard from Basic Military Training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. Sometimes when the 82nd Training Wing Commander Brig. Gen. Richard Devereaux is unavailable, I get the privilege of welcoming them to Sheppard.

During our discussions, inevitably one of these eager, motivated new Airmen asks me what I like most about being in the Air Force. My answer is short and sweet. I tell them that first, I love leading our great Airmen as we defend freedom around the world, and secondly, I love being part of a team that always takes care of each other.

I explain that what makes us different from employers in the business world is that we care about each and every Airman all the time - on or off duty, deployed or at home station, young or old, brand new or retired 30 years ... it doesn't matter. Once you take the oath and join our team, we will always do our best to take care of each other. Our Airman's Creed says, "I will never leave an Airman behind"! And not only do we take care of each other, we take care of our families, our civilian Airmen and our contractor workforce.

Our newest Airmen, officer and enlisted, quickly grasp this basic tenant of our military culture. In fact, it's not hard at all to convince them, but now it's time that we all live up to that basic philosophy, to those stirring words in our Creed. Now is the time to do something tangible to back up our Creed with a deed, to show the rest of the Air Force and the rest of the world what we mean by "taking care of each other."

How, you ask?

It's simple, really, and we all can do it - all you have to do is fill out an Air Force Assistance Fund donation form. We make it easy and painless with payroll deductions, or you can give a one-time donation if you prefer. You can give $5 a month or $500. Every single dollar matters and every single dollar goes to helping our fellow Airmen out.

If you're a brand new Airman with no stripes, or a gray-haired colonel like me, you can help your fellow Airmen. In fact, I'm proud to say our newest Airmen are among our most giving!

Your money goes entirely to helping our AF family, through the AF Aid Society, the AF Village Widow's Fund, the AF Enlisted Village and the LeMay Foundation. Your donation will help provide emergency grants and interest-free loans to Airmen in need, spouse tuition assistance, scholarships, free child care, phone cards for deployers, support to AF widows in dire need and many, many more causes ... all for AF people.

Last year, the AF Aid Society gave more than $19.1 million dollars in direct aid to over 35,000 members of our AF family. For every dollar we give here at Sheppard, we usually get about $3 back in assistance. Unbelievable!

Last year, Team Sheppard had an amazing 68 percent participation rate and we rocketed past our goal of $88,000 to raise over $167,000! But I'm convinced the dedicated and highly-motivated professionals here at Sheppard can do even better. I have no doubt that we can get more than 70 percent participation and blow away our $92,000 goal. In fact, I'm convinced we can raise $185,000, more than 200 percent of our goal. Just find your squadron or group AF Assistance Fund POC and ask for a form...it's easy!

At our AFAF kick-off breakfast last week, Airman 1st Class Jose Deharo, from the 82nd Security Forces Squadron, and Staff Sgt. Talferd Collins, from the 365th Training Squadron, shared their stories about how AF Aid Society, through our wonderful Airmen and Family Readiness Center, got them help when they needed it most. Don't believe me ... listen to them!

Remember, our Airman's Creed says we will never leave an Airman behind, we will never falter, and we will not fail!

I've filled out my AF Assistance Fund form. Have you?