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Debbie Laskiewicz, director of RAF Mildenhall's Airman and Family Readiness Center.
Debbie Laskiewicz, director of RAF Mildenhall's Airman and Family Readiness Center. (Sean Kimmons / S&S)

Airman and Family Readiness centers across the Air Force recently have begun issuing quick, no-interest loans to assist cash-strapped airmen.

The Falcon Loan Program, initiated last month by the Air Force Aid Society, can provide an airman with a small loan of up to $500 to be used for short- term financial emergencies, instead of getting suckered by high-interest lenders off base and on the Internet. Debbie Laskiewicz, director of RAF Mildenhall’s AFRC, discussed the new loan program in detail.

Do you think this Falcon Loan Program will really help airmen in need?

I think so. The big concern is that we want to prevent them from seeking payday loans or high-interest loans as an option before they come to us.

When can an airman use the loan?

There are some stipulations. If they have a current Air Force Aid loan out, which is the normal loan program, they cannot [get] a Falcon loan until that balance is cleared out. [But] if they have a Falcon loan, and a bigger emergency comes along, they can still have an Air Force Aid loan.

What’s the difference between an Air Force Aid loan and a Falcon loan?

The Air Force Aid loan allows them to use more money above the $500 limit. A lot of the foundations for both are the same. It’s just that a Falcon loan will give them a quick fix to meet their immediate needs, where they may not need a bigger loan.

Is it easier to get a Falcon loan compared to the larger loans?

Well, yeah, because with a larger loan we’d have to go through their entire budget and through a bunch of questions and different approval levels, depending on how much it is.

Is $500 the most that they can receive with a Falcon loan?

They can get up to $500, which is payable back within three to 10 months. And very few questions are asked, other than that it has to be a validated emergency use.

What’s the requirement on what airmen can use the loan for?

It’s for short-term financial needs like basic living expenses — such as rent, mortgage, food, utilities, vehicle maintenance and payments — emergency travel, and medical and dental expenses.

Have any RAF Mildenhall airmen used a Falcon loan?

Since the program has started we’ve had 10 loans, averaging a little bit less than $500. Not everybody is taking out the full $500.

How long does it take to get this loan?

They can pull the application online [www.afas.org], fill it out and come in along with their ID card and current leave-and-earnings statement. One of our folks would then be assigned to that person to go through the process to validate their needs, and we can cut a check for them on the same day.

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