Thursday, June 27, 2013

AFA Supports First Air Force Wounded Warrior Adaptive Sports Camp at Joint Base Andrews

The Air Force Wounded Warrior Program hosted its first ever Adaptive Sports Camp for the east coast at Joint Base Andrews this past week. More than 30 Airmen participated in the two-day camp, which offered activities such as wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, archery, swimming, and track and field. This will be an annual camp, along with others held on the west coast and in the central region leading up to selection and training for the Warrior Games.

Airmen participating in the wheelchair basketball practice began with stretching and basic familiarity with the wheelchairs, which are designed specifically for this sport. Coach Bill Demby took participants through a series of drills that taught them the proper way to push the wheels, start, stop, spin, and weave through cones. Once they were comfortable with those skills, they moved on to passing and shooting drills, which elicited round after round of cheers and applause from everyone on the court.

Wounded Warriors learn to play wheelchair basketball during an Air Force Wounded Warrior Adaptive Sports Training Camp June 26, 2013, at Joint Base Andrews, Md. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Lauren Main)

Many of the Airmen at the camp at Andrews were participating in the Air Force Wounded Warrior program for the very first time. For some of them, this was the first time out of their house, on a plane, or even being away from their families and spouses since being enrolled in the program.

One of the goals of the program is to get the Warriors to overcome little hurdles of everyday life so they can reintegrate back in to a daily routine. The program also uses these sports camps to get Airmen to bond with their fellow Warriors who are facing similar challenges. They understand what the others are going through, and they can provide a network of support for each other as they continue through the process of recovery.

USAF athletes who won medals at the 2013 Wounded Warrior Games this past May were also present to serve as mentors and coaches. Eligible Wounded Warriors are welcome to participate in the selection camp in January 2014. If selected, they will participate in a training camp in March, and then in the 2014 Wounded Warrior Games in May. The selection and training camps as well as the Games are all held in Colorado Springs, Co.

The Adaptive Sports Camps came to the Air Force Wounded Warrior program in December of 2012 from Headquarter Services. This transfer integrated the program directly with its intended population: Wounded Airmen. Program staff look forward to working with thousands of warriors as they learn more about the program and how it can be a part of their healing process.

The AFW2 looks forward to expanding their Adaptive Sports Camps across the country. After Airmen participate in the camps, they return to their homebases and can continue their training with the help of Recovery Care Coordinators, Paralympic staff, and similar programs with other branches. An upcoming training camp in Hawaii will be a joint effort hosted with the Navy.

AFA is proud to form a partnership with the Air Force Wounded Warrior Adaptive Sports Program, and we look forward to supporting our Airmen Athletes as they continue to use sports and teamwork as a part of their recovery.

June Declared PTSD Awareness Month

The Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder have declared June: “PTSD Awareness Month”. PTSD is often a misunderstood challenge that affects the members of our Armed Forces, and its prevalence is frequently underestimated. PTSD Awareness Month was established to provide information on this disorder and to connect those who are in need with the available resources.

As a part of our mission, AFA created our Wounded Airman Program to provide programs and resources that support our Airmen who are fighting this invisible war. The Wounded Airman Program includes taking care of the seriously ill and injured, and those challenged by PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury, and other wounds that are not visibly seen.

PTSD affects approximately 20 percent of our service members, and can be a result of exposure to combat or a life-threatening event. Stress reactions such as nightmares, increased anxiety, and reliving a traumatic event can be symptoms of the condition if they persist over a longer period of time.

Resiliency is the ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change. With the recent shift in focus towards improving quality of life, the United States Air Force has developed a new program called Comprehensive Airman Fitness (CAF) that aims to create a new culture of sustaining resilient Airmen.

The four pillars of the program encourage Airmen to focus on mental, physical, social, and spiritual areas of life to develop the skills to overcome adverse or traumatic events in their lives. In a statement by the USAF, Lt. Col. Gregory Laffitte, Headquarters Air Force Comprehensive Airman Fitness Branch Chief, says “we're creating a culture. We want to foster this Air Force community that's thriving."

Many Airmen who suffer from PTSD and TBI as a result of previous deployments, rely on the CAF program as a part of their recovery process.

If you are concerned that you or a loved one may be dealing with PTSD, we encourage you to seek treatment and support. The Air Force Wounded Warrior Program works to provide a number of resources to our Airmen as they continue on the path of rehabilitation, recovery, and reintegration. For more information on PTSD awareness and other available resources:






- If you are a woman Veteran, family member or caregiver, and need assistance, please call the Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Update from the AFA Veteran Benefits Association

The AFA Veteran Benefits Association is a 501(c)19 Veterans Association which administers the member benefits of the Air Force Association. Once a month, AFAVBA sends out updates with news, announcements, and deals. AFAVBA member discounts include discounts on travel, shopping, insurance, and education programs. This month's highlight features a deal for SAT and ACT test prep classes for AFA members.

AFA members can receive $250 worth of SAT and ACT PowerPrep™ Programs for less than $20 (which covers the cost of materials, shipping, etc.) The SAT and ACT PowerPrep™ Programs are available online or on a single DVD. Programs include more than 11 hours of video instruction and 3000 files of supplemental test prep material, thousands of interactive diagnostic tools, sample questions, and practice tests Students select the training they need and study at their own pace.

Many Members appreciate this benefit, including MSgt Daryle G. Christensen, USAF (Ret.) who says:
“Thank you so much. I am retired Air Force. This is the third child I've ordered for. My other two children did very well on the ACT, PSAT and SAT using this software to prepare them. And thank you very much to the NFL players who are not only supporting military families, but encouraging our children to seek higher education.”
AFAVBA offers a full list of services on their website at For more information on how to become an AFA member visit

Monday, June 24, 2013

AFA is Proud to Support the Air Force Wounded Warrior Adaptive Sports Camp

The Air Force Association is proud to support the Adaptive Sports Camp being held at Andrews Air Force Base June 25 – June 27, 2013. The camp will be hosted by the Air Force Wounded Warrior Adaptive Sports Program staff, which uses sports as a part of the healing process for wounded, injured, and ill Airmen.

The Air Force Wounded Warrior (AFW2) program aims to provide extraordinary care, service, and assistance to our Airmen in need. AFA created the Wounded Airman Program to support initiatives like the Adaptive Sports Program that help rehabilitate wounded Airmen as they make their way through the recovery process.

Throughout the Adaptive Sports Camp, AFA will participate in a variety of events including hosting a lunch for staff and athletes on Wednesday, June 26, 2013. AFA Executive Vice President Dick Newton will also participate in a wheelchair basketball drill practice in the morning before lunch.

“The Air Force Association is excited to participate in this wonderful program and engage with our Airmen,” said Dick Newton, AFA Executive Vice President. “AFW2 is doing invaluable work to provide continuing care to our Airmen and their families during all stages of their recovery and rehabilitation. I’m looking forward to taking part in the activities next week, and continuing to support our Airmen and their families in the future.”

Warriors compete in a wheelchair basketball game during the 2013 Wounded Warrior Games.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Field Spotlight: Eglin AFA

The Eglin Chapter of the Air Force Association has had a busy couple of months serving their local community. On May 16, 2013 the Chapter hosted its Annual Education Recognition Night to honor scholarship recipients and the Teacher of the Year.

Scholarships totaling $24,000 were presented to 10 top students from a local university, and 5 local high school programs. Keynote speaker Brig Gen Scott Jansson of Eglin AFB highlighted the key importance of continuing to educate our young leaders as they proceed to higher education. For a full list of scholarship recipients please visit the Eglin AFA Facebook page

On Memorial Day, Chapter Treasurer Steve Czonstka presented a wreath at the Memorial Day services at Doolittle Park in Valparaiso, Fl. In addition, Chapter President Shannon Farrell and Chapter Vice President Eddie McAllister ran in the 28th annual Eglin AFB Gate-to-Gate Memorial Day run. Other chapter members participated in events during the race, as well as at Beal Cemetery and the Fisher House of the Emerald Coast. We're proud of Eglin chapter members for representing AFA so well during this national day of remembrance.

The Eglin Chapter also continued their support of the Eglin AFA Fisher House 5K in partnership with the Eglin AFB Top 3 Association, Quality Imports Toyota, Northwest Floriday Fly Vps Regional Airport, and the Crestview Military Affairs Council. The third annual Eglin AFA Fisher House 5K was held in March, and raised $11,000 for the Fisher House of the Emerald Coast. Planning for next year's race is already underway, and we look forward to seeing the continued success of this initiative! 

Last, but certainly not least, the chapter has recently renewed their relationship with the Eglin Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol. Earlier this week the Eglin AFA Aerospace Education Foundation provided $2,000 in funds to help the CAP squadron improve their education programs for young cadets, focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). 

Thank you to the members of the Eglin Chapter of AFA for their dedicated hard work in their community. The Air Force Association is a non-profit, independent, professional military and aerospace education association. Our mission is to promote a dominant United States Air Force and a strong national defense, and to honor Airmen and our Air Force Heritage. We do this through the dedication and commitment of our chapter members across the country.

For more information on what our chapter's are doing in their local communities check out the Air Force Magazine's AFA National Report

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Symantec Joins CyberPatriot as Cyber Gold Sponsor

The Air Force Association (AFA) today announced that Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC), one of the world’s largest software companies, has joined the team of sponsors for CyberPatriot –The National High School Cyber Defense Competition.

Symantec provides security, storage, and systems management solutions to a wide range of businesses across the globe, allowing their clients to protect themselves more comprehensively and efficiently than any other company.

Symantec joins CyberPatriot as a Cyber Gold sponsor, providing invaluable resources, knowledge and capability to the nation’s fastest-growing youth cyber challenge. Earlier this year, Symantec pledged to provide $1 million in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) and literacy education grants to non-profit organizations around the globe.

“CyberPatriot is honored to work with Symantec to provide STEM education opportunities to young adults in order to create a strong and diverse cyber workforce for the future,” said Bernie Skoch, CyberPatriot Commissioner. “With the support of generous corporate sponsors like Symantec, CyberPatriot is able to grow the next generation of cybersecurity experts that our country needs as a part of our national workforce and, more broadly, to attract American youth to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education and careers.”

“Symantec is committed to providing our nation’s youth, with an emphasis on women and minorities, with education opportunities they may otherwise not be able to benefit from,” said Cecily Joseph, senior director of Corporate Responsibility. “We look forward to partnering with CyberPatriot to give middle school and high school students access to an engaging STEM curriculum. We are looking forward to a long and productive relationship with the Air Force Association working to raise awareness and understanding of cybersecurity. “

CyberPatriot is an exciting education initiative created to stimulate student interest inSTEM. Providing students hands-on learning about technology, CyberPatriot emphasizes teamwork and leadership, and exercises critical-thinking skills as teams learn how to defend and protect computer systems from cyberthreats. This year’s competition began in early November 2012, with more than 1,000 teams across the country (and five in Canada) registered to participate.

For more information about CyberPatriot, visit

About Symantec:
Symantec protects the world's information, and is a global leader in security, backup and availability solutions. Our innovative products and services protect people and information in any environment – from the smallest mobile device, to the enterprise data center, to cloud-based systems. Our world-renowned expertise in protecting data, identities and interactions gives our customers confidence in a connected world. More information is available at or by connecting with Symantec at:

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

AFA Sarasota-Manatee Chapter Hosts End of Season Picnic

Chapter Highlight: Sarasota-Manatee
Written by: Michael Richardson, Chapter President

"It was perfect!" That was Vice President Howie Cobin's assessment of the chapter's picnic meeting on April 20th.

About 30 members, spouses and friends gathered at the home of Irene Murray and Chapter President Mike Richardson on April 20th for an end of the season casual get-together. Several members who had not previously attended a meeting showed up and enjoyed themselves.

According to Irene, "We wanted to have one more fun event before the seasonal residents headed back their homes in the North and before it became too hot an humid to enjoy being outside."

Marty Sobel ­ an AFA Chapter member and former President of the Sarasota Chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) ­ gave a short talk about the EAA's Young Eagles program.

The program was launched in 1992 to give interested young people an opportunity to fly in a general aviation airplane ­ and to interest them in an aviation career. Since that time, more than 1.6 million Young Eagles in over 90 countries have flown ­ all through the generosity of over 42,000 volunteer EAA pilots.

Marty noted that hands-on experience increases the likelihood that an individual will pursue an aviation career. As such, the local EAA Chapter created program to let youngsters participate in building an airplane ­ in this case a RV-12 Light Sport aircraft. They meet every Saturday morning at the Sarasota-Bradenton Airport to work on the airplane. Chapter members indicated an interest on how they and the chapter might become involved in the program.

The food for the picnic was catered by Nancy¹s Bar-B-Q located at 301 South Pineapple Avenue in Sarasota. Kudos to Nancy for the excellent quality of the food and the exceptional presentation and packaging of the meal. Nancy has our vote of confidence!

A special thanks to the six members of the Executive Council whose financial donations underwrote the cost of the food for all the participants!

AFA’s Wounded Airman Program Gets Support from 2013 Air Force Association Cycling Classic

The Air Force Association’s Wounded Airman Program was the designated sole beneficiary for this year’s Air Force Association Cycling Classic, held June 8-9, 2013 in Arlington, Va. At an awards ceremony held on Saturday, June 8, 2013, at the Air Force Memorial, AFA received a check for $18,500 raised through pledges made by those participating as part of Team Sabre in the AFA Cycling Classic.

TEAM MaD Dad, led by David Hallisey, received the Team Sabre Top Fundraiser title for the third year in a row. Lockheed Martin received the Navy Federal Credit Union Corporate Challenge Team Award for being the top fund-raising team.

The Saturday evening event also highlighted members from the Walter Reed Bethesda Cycling program, which aims to make a difference in the lives of recovering service members by assisting in their mental and physical rehabilitation programs through the use of cycling. Commander Hernán Altamar, an original member of the cycling program, uses his experience and passion for cycling to guide the nation’s first program of its kind in support of our Wounded Warriors.

“The Air Force Association is honored to be a part of this year’s Cycling Classic both in name and as the sole beneficiary of the event’s fundraising efforts,” said Craig McKinley, AFA President. “Our nation’s Airmen remain dedicated to defending our freedoms and providing national security for us all. We owe it to the men and women of the United States Air Force to take care of them when they return home in need of special assistance, and the AFA Wounded Airman Program allows us to fulfill that duty.”

The 2013 Air Force Association Cycling Classic consisted of two days of racing from cyclists of every level and ability. Professional men’s and women’s cycling teams from UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling, Jamis-Hagens Berman, and Team TIBCO took top spots on the podium in a series of criterium races throughout the weekend.

Riders also participated in a non-competitive ride on Sunday morning that started in Crystal City and passed by the Pentagon and Air Force Memorial. The United States Air Force won the Armed Forces Cycling Challenge after their riders completed the most laps out of all of the military branch teams.

“AFA is proud to join forces with the local cycling community in support of our Airmen,” said George Muellner, AFA Chairman of the Board. “Our Wounded Airman Program aims to provide both emotional and financial support to service members and their families as they continue on the road to recovery.”

The 2013 Air Force Association Cycling Classic was held in partnership with Arlington Sports, Inc, a business dedicated to the promotion and development of professional and amateur cycling. Riders had a variety of opportunities to participate throughout the weekend that catered to cycling enthusiasts of all abilities, from casual amateur to professional racers. For more information please visit

The Air Force Association Cycling Classic is proudly presented by The Boeing Company. We would also like to thank our supporting sponsors: Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Navy Federal Credit Union, CrystalCity BID, and Battlespace, Inc. for their assistance. For a full list of sponsors and media partners please visit:

Friday, June 7, 2013

Warrior Games 2013

Airmen walked away with 30 medals, including three gold, from the 2013 Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colo., nearly doubling their medal count from the previous year.
Written by Caitie Craumer, Manager, Airmen & Family Programs

Winning medals, places, and other awards were only a small part of what the Warrior Games were actually about. What was more important were the friendships formed, the support across “team” lines really defined the attitudes of the warriors there. There were opportunities for athletes of all abilities—including a visually-impaired cycling heat with tandem bikes for one person to steer and the other to drive the pedaling power.

The teamwork involved in practice and competition was transformative. Between the first hour of practice and the last, each airman learned how to work together. This was most visible in seated volleyball, where part of the game was connecting with the other players by using their names and nicknames in passing, and congratulating the other teams on good shots. Many of the airmen shared stories of coming out of their shells and making new friends during the training camps, and really learned to watch out for each other as part of a larger team. They wanted to introduce me to their families, and they wanted me to try the sports!

These were by no means easy sports. Adjusting to new centers of balance, missing limbs, and changing perspectives had these warriors emotional and physically involved at every level of competition, including cheering on their team members.

In the end, it wasn’t the number of medals (though there were many!) that mattered, but the resilience and the teamwork of the athletes, and the outpouring of support they received from friends, family, and fans.

AFA’s Role at the Games

Working closely with the needs of AFW2, AFA was able to prepare for the Games by helping to fund a  pecially-outfitted wheelchair delivery for Chris Wolff—without which he might not be competiting. He was overwhelming grateful for our help, and in more than one conversation regarding his personal journey to the Games I overheard him saying that it was AFA that helped get him there in the end. It meant a lot that I was able to be there to see him in action, and to give him and his family a hug after the race!

Colorado State really stepped up on their turf, and state President Tom Cavalli was on hand to meet many of the warriors, as well as Region President Gayle White. Colorado “adopted” Brandon Bishop. Tom was there to meet Brandon, and then continue to cheer him on as he competed throughout the week. The athletes all became AFA’s team, and will officially become members following the Games. This support was truly transformative, and AFW2 made sure that these airmen knew that AFA was there for them. Unfortunately, I missed the opening Pep Rally, but many groups were represented in support of family programs (Fisher House, Bob Woodruff Foundation, Hero Miles, Semper Fi Fund, AFFN, America’s Fund, Hope for the Warriors, Navy Safe Harbor, Operation Homefront, and USO), and AFA was given a shout out. Perhaps the duffle bags we sent had something to do with it…

Though the Warrior Games began in 2010, this is the first year that AFA was really involved. We have many options to support in the future, including with the family programming, but our focus should continue to be on the warriors. This opportunity to compete means a lot in the spirit of recovery. It was an amazing group of airmen and a wonderful opportunity to witness true resiliency. I wish I had planned to stay the whole week, and I suggest that we participate in some way next year as well.