Technical Sergeant Raymond Ireland wanted more out of life than his small hometown offered. With a father who served in the Army National Guard for over 20 years, TSgt Ireland joined the Air Force at 17 years old with his mother’s permission. Now, 16 years later, he leads a team of people and makes sure they’re his number one priority.
For TSgt Ireland, “taking care of your people is what the Air Force family means to me.” This includes how the Air Force Aid Society (AFAS) is always ready to help Airmen when they’re in need.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented conditions for millions of people. TSgt Ireland’s wife was out of work for a while and the family lost her income. When she was able to return to work, the family needed childcare but didn’t have enough to cover the initial childcare bill. TSgt Ireland applied for and received an interest-free loan. AFAS went one step further and converted his loan to a grant due to the pandemic and their unplanned financial emergency.
AFAS also recognizes many Air Force families have faced extra expenses resulting from school closings due to the pandemic. To help Airmen, AFAS offered a one-time $250 Virtual Schooling Grant to eligible Air Force families with a financial need to help with virtual schooling costs.
With three school-age boys who attend school virtually three days a week, the electronic device situation in the Ireland house was “nerve-wracking,” according to the technical sergeant. “I have a laptop that I use for my schooling,” he explains. But with everyone needing the device, one laptop wasn’t meeting their needs.
TSgt Ireland applied for the Virtual Schooling Grant, which allowed him to purchase an additional device for the household. “The extra device saves everyone time, and it keeps his boys from “a lot of complaining and heartache,” he says.
As much as life has changed since COVID-19 began, the Ireland family now manages both parents’ work schedules while balancing in-person schooling, virtual schooling, and daycare for the kids.
TSgt Ireland tells Airmen there is no shame in asking for help. The Society is there for Airmen with no judgment. “Everyone has different circumstances in their lives,” he says, and “needing help doesn’t mean you’re lesser than anyone else.”
Because for TSgt Ireland, taking care of a fellow Airman is a benefit of being a part of the Air Force family.
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.