Casandra Dawson’s grandfather is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, and he was a major reason why she decided to join the Air Force. Along with serving her country, Casandra wanted to “establish a strong foundation that would help in my pursuit of educational and professional goals,” she states.
Casandra served in the Air Force for nine years before separating so that she could provide stability and consistency to her three children. The Air Force continues to be a big part of her life. Her husband is an active duty Senior Master Sergeant, and now Casandra works as a community programs assistant at the Airman and Family Readiness Center at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia.
Over the years, the Dawsons have learned the importance of taking care of Airmen and their families, “and this is why we love and appreciate the Air Force Aid Society (AFAS). Because it’s a service that takes care of our Airmen!” Casandra explains. Calling them the “backbone” of the Air Force family, Casandra says AFAS strengthens Airmen.
Casandra has seen first-hand how AFAS takes care of its own. In fact, she’s benefited from its assistance more than once. When she was an Airman First Class, Casandra’s grandpa passed away in Guam when she was stationed at Hill Air Force Base in Utah. AFAS helped her with airfare to fly to Guam for the funeral and “spend quality time with my family,” she recalls.
Years later, the Society provided education assistance to Casandra’s oldest daughter. She received the General Henry (Hap) Arnold Education Grant, the centerpiece of AFAS education support. With three kids, the Hap Arnold Grant helped ease some of the financial burden of attending college, allowing their daughter to focus on her studies.
And most recently, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dawsons found themselves unexpectedly needing to purchase additional supplies for their two children who would attend virtual schooling. AFAS was there again with the Virtual Schooling Grant, a one-time $250 grant to eligible Air Force families with a financial need.
Now their kids can work on their school assignments at home, and Casandra and SMSgt Dawson can “focus and function better on our mission objectives at work,” Casandra says.
Casandra thanks the generous individuals who donated to the Society to help Airmen.
“No matter the size of your contribution, it made a difference,” she says.
The Air Force Aid Society is the official charity of the U.S. Air Force and has been meeting the unique needs of Airmen and their families since 1942. AFAS works to support and enhance the USAF mission by providing emergency financial assistance, educational support, and community programs. Since 2008, AFAS has provided more than $215 million in direct support to Air Force families.