Story and photo by
Airman 1st Class Kaylea Berry
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
People never know how they will react when receiving a call informing them a loved one back home has been injured, or worse, passed away. In that situation, the last thing an Airman wants to worry about is how, or if, they’ll be able to pay for a plane ticket back home.
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Tylor Szatko, 86th Munitions Squadron munitions inspector, experienced this panic while he was stationed at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea. His grandfather was about to pass away.
He was unable to receive help from the American Red Cross due to the fact it wasn’t an immediate family member. Luckily his shop chief told him about the Air Force Assistance Fund through the Airman & Family Readiness Center.
“The A&FRC told me about the Falcon Loan through the Air Force Aid Society and how I was a perfect candidate for the program,” said Szatko. “I got a quote for airline tickets from the travel office on base, applied for the loan, was approved, and then was on my way to the States within a couple of days.”
Since the process went quickly, Szatko was able to have some time with his grandfather.
“Because of AFAF, I was able to get home and see my grandfather before he passed,” said Szatko. “This would not have been possible without them, and I was more than thankful for how much it helped me out.”
Szatko’s grandfather was someone he looked up to growing up and one of the reasons he decided to join the military.
“My grandfather and I were close. When I was younger we used to go fishing often and spent lots of time outdoors,” said Szatko. “He was in the Navy during the Vietnam War. My grandfather taught me the importance of hard work and perseverance.”
Szatko also says that Airmen who are in a similar situation should take advantage of what the Air Force can offer them.
“The military has so many programs in place that are designed to help Airmen with anything from finances, to difficult personal situations that one may have a hard time getting through alone,” said Szatko. “Never be afraid to ask questions, especially when it has to do with your well-being. Supervisors and first sergeants will be able to lead them in the right direction.”
For more information about the Air Force Assistance Fund please contact the Airman & Family Readiness Center commercially at 06371-47-5900 / 5100 or by DSN at 480-5900 / 5100. You can also stop by their office in building 2120, Mon to Fri 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.