HomeNewsCommentariesDisplay

AFAF: A local Airman's perspective

PATRICK AFB, Fla. -- In the summer of 2010, I was in the middle of a three-year assignment with my family to Alice Springs, Australia.

My wife, Linda, was expecting our third child. Our other two children, Daniel, age 6, and Caitlyn, age 3, were excitedly waiting for the new addition.

Linda gave birth to a healthy baby girl, Abigail, on June 2.

Tragically, my wife passed away six hours later due to complications from the elective C-section.

What followed over the next nine days was a very chaotic departure from Australia via a humanitarian reassignment. Except for a few suitcases full of clothes, we left everything behind for co-workers to pack and ship.

We would not have a place to call our own, or see our household goods again for more than two months.

After leave and the funeral, we arrived in Florida at the beginning of July and were met at the airport by members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center.

Over the next six weeks we relied heavily on the generosity of the military community to help us get settled. Until our mini-van made the long trek back from Australia we borrowed vehicles from co-workers.

Eventually, we moved into a base house in mid-August and our belongings and vehicle followed shortly after. Unfortunately, the mini-van would require extensive mechanical repairs to become road worthy again.

We were enduring considerable financial difficulties because we could not file a claim with Family SGLI until the coroner's office in Australia released a finalized death certificate.

Our savings were also completely depleted due to paying for all funeral expenses out of pocket.

We turned to the AFAF to request a grant for repairs to our vehicle. This marked the turning point for our recovery as I now had the peace of mind that I could shuttle the children to school, doctor's appointments, and day care without worrying about having reliable transportation.

It may seem like a "little thing" to some, but for us it was very much appreciated.

This first-hand experience illustrated to my family how important the AFAF is to Air Force members. I make it a point to impress on others why I support the fund every year.