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AFAS helps Scott family with medical expenses

Posted 4/6/2011   Updated 4/6/2011 Email story   Print story


by Bekah Clark
375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

4/6/2011 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill.  -- Capt. George Berry's wife, Angela, has battled muscular dystrophy for her entire life, but when her condition permanently confined her to a wheelchair during the captain's deployment to Iraq last year, the couple knew changes were needed.

Those changes included significant home and vehicle modifications to ensure accessibility for her. The changes, not all of which are complete, will ultimately cost more than $100,000.

After several failed requests to their medical insurance, MD charities, and other organizations for financial assistance, the Berrys, who also have two young daughters, weren't sure how to make it work. But when Lona Berndt, the Berry's neighbor and Air Force Aid Society officer, heard the family's story she started digging to find out if AFAS would be able to help.

Ms. Berndt's work paid off and AFAS--the only charitable foundation in the Air Force Assistance Fund dedicated to financially assisting active duty Airmen and their families--gave the Berry family a $5,000 grant.

The grant will go toward a wheelchair lift modification for their van or necessary bathroom modifications.

While the money won't cover all of the modification costs, the captain and his family are still grateful for the assistance.

"AFAF helped my family when other external agencies couldn't," said Captain Berry, a member of Air Mobility Command's Communications Directorate. "We were stuck; we didn't know what we were going to do with more than 100 grand in debt. It certainly won't cover all of it, but it's a start."

"I had never given to AFAF before. I had traditionally only given to MD organizations because I thought eventually they would help my wife or hopefully find the cure," he said. "But this experience changed my mind. AFAF considers difficult situations and it helps Airmen get through them.

"My AMC/A6 (Communications Directorate) has taken great care of me--always understanding when I leave to take care of unexpected issues at home and their willingness to engage if I need it to push something through, such as issues with medical or TRICARE," he said. "But the money from AFAF let me know my extended Air Force Family was helping meet my needs and cared about me and my family."
The family, who still plans to do several personal fundraisers to offset the costs the modifications, credits Ms. Berndt with the grant.

"It wouldn't have happened without Lona, she was a huge advocate for us," said Captain Berry.

Col. Michael Hornitschek, 375th Air Mobility Wing commander, said, "I encourage all Team Scott members to donate to some aspect of the Air Force Assistance Fund, even if it's just a few dollars a month. Those few dollars a month will make a big difference to a fellow Airman."

The Air Force Aid Society is one of four charitable foundations underneath the umbrella of the Air Force Assistance Fund, which allows Airmen to contribute to multiple charities that directly impact other Airmen.

In addition to providing financial relief for Airmen and their families, AFAS also provides funding for the Give Parents a Break, Bundles for Babies and Phone Home programs.
In addition to the AFAS, Airmen can donate to the Air Force Village and the Air Force Enlisted Village. Both retirement communities provide surviving military spouses a safe and affordable place to live.

The General and Mrs. Curtis LeMay Foundation provides grants to widows of Air Force retirees, both officer and enlisted, for as long as they need it.

The wing's goal is to raise $38,605 for AFAF with an installation goal of $119,722. Donation opportunities will be available at the Exchange and commissary, and in individual units.

For more information, call 1st Lt. Charles Linz at 256-6251 or 1st Lt. David Johnson at 256-7307.

Air Force Assistance Fund foundations

Air Force Village
Who they help: Retired and honorably separated military officers from all branches of military service, their spouses, widows, widowers and eligible dependents
How they help: Provides affordable retirement community in San Antonio, Texas with onsite healthcare and assisted living available.
Requesting assistance:
More information:, or 1-800- 724-5771

Air Force Enlisted Village
Who they help: Enlisted Airmen and their widows
How they help: Provides affordable retirement community in Shalimar, Fla.
Requesting assistance:
More information:, or 1-800-258-1413

The General and Mrs. Curtis LeMay Foundation
Who they help: Enlisted and officer widows of retired Airmen
How they help: Assistance grants through single disbursement and long term grants for extended periods.
Requesting assistance:
More information:

The Air Force Aid Society
Who they help: Active duty Airmen and their family members, retired Airmen and eligible family members, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve on active duty orders and spouses and children of deceased Airmen who died on active duty.
How they help: Provide worldwide emergency assistance, sponsor education assistance programs and offer an array of base community enhancement programs that improve quality of life.
Requesting Assistance:
More information:

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