Over the course of his 19 years of service, Master Sergeant Jared Graham has met so many people and made lifetime friends. When he joined the Air Force almost two decades earlier, he did so primarily to take advantage of the many benefits that serving in the military provides, including job security and the opportunity to travel.
MSgt Graham didn’t know that he would also benefit from the Air Force Aid Society (AFAS) when he first joined, but he’s grateful for its assistance now that he and his wife have two children with special needs.
The Airman and Family Readiness Center contacted the Grahams telling them about a new grant offered by AFAS. The Special Needs Grant helps relieve some financial burdens for families in the Exceptional Family Member Program. It makes specialized activities and services—such as buying wheelchairs—more accessible for these families.
The timing couldn’t be better, as the Grahams had just discovered some off-road wheelchairs for their sons that would allow them to be more active.
Applying for the grant was quick and easy, recalls MSgt Graham. They were approved before the wheelchairs could even be purchased. And once the family had the new wheelchairs, they began their adventures.
“We’ve been able to take our boys places that we were never able to take them before,” states MSgt Graham. “They have been able to get involved with their peers, going on hikes in the mountains. We call them our adventure chairs,” he explains.
Thanks to the Special Needs Grant and the generous donors to AFAS, the Grahams have made great memories while also planning for more adventures in the future. “Words cannot express how grateful our family is,” MSgt Graham says.
The door to a whole new world is now open, allowing the Grahams to visit places they only dreamed of before. Snowy ice castles, sand dunes and beaches are just the beginning. “We are boldly going where no wheelchair has gone before!” exclaims the Master Sergeant.
Incorporated in 1942, the Air Force Aid Society continues to meet the unique needs of Airmen and Guardians. AFAS works to support and enhance the USAF and USSF missions by providing emergency financial assistance, educational support, and community programs to Air Force and Space Force families. In 2020, AFAS provided over $12.5 million in assistance to more than 26,000 Air Force and Space Force families. Visit www.afas.org to learn more, apply for assistance, or to donate.