To help ensure the financial security and independence of the members of the American Armed Forces Community by providing insurance and other benefits.
AAFMAA was established on January 13, 1879, after officials in the War Department saw the need for an Association to take care of fellow Soldiers in the aftermath of the Battle of the Little Bighorn — "Custer's Last Stand."
In 1876, Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer (former brevet Major General) led his ill-fated expedition against the Cheyenne and Sioux in the Dakota Territory which culminated in the Battle of the Little Bighorn. The result of this battle starkly emphasized the desperate circumstances of bereaved Army families of that era. When a death occurred on the frontier, surviving servicemembers literally conduced a “passing of the hat” to raise money to transport dependents “back East” to the care of relatives and friends. In the case of the 7th Cavalry, the old system collapsed. There were no survivors; there was no hat to pass – and no one to pass it to! As a result, on 13 January 1879, the Army Mutual Aid Association was created. The founding documents for the Association were prepared by a Committee of Army Officers chaired by Lieutenant Colonel (later Brigadier General) Roger Jones, Assistant Inspector General of the Army. The expressed purpose was to “to aid the families of the deceased Members in a prompt, simple and substantial manner”.
Since then, active supporters and officers have included Generals John J. Pershing, George C. Marshall, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Carl A. (Tooey) Spaatz, Omar N. Bradley, William C. Westmoreland, Creighton W. Abrams, Walter T. “Dutch” Kerwin, Michael S. Davison, H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Ronald R. Fogleman, Michael E. Ryan and Eric K. Shinseki, just to name a few.
Throughout our rich 142 years of history, there have been many Association changes. In 1984, the Association’s Members voted to expand Membership to include Air Force officers. In 1987, the name was officially changed from Army Mutual Aid Association to the Army and Air Force Mutual Aid Association – AAFMAA. In 1995, AAFMAA’s Members voted to expand Membership to include Noncommissioned Officers and in 2000, Membership expanded again to include enlisted ranks. In September 2011, Membership was once again updated to include servicemembers of the Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard and in August 2021, Membership expanded to include servicemembers of the Space Force. Today, American Armed Forces servicemembers around the world, on active duty, Retired, Guard, Reserves, those currently attending one of the service academies, ROTC contract/scholarship cadets and honorably discharged Veterans (residing in AZ, CT, FL, HI, MD, NC, OK, RI, SC and VA) are eligible for Membership. On 12 June 2013, to honor the expansion of Membership to all American Armed Forces, AAFMAA officially changed its name to American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association — still maintaining the acronym AAFMAA.
Since 1879, AAFMAA has continuously provided Members low-cost life insurance and superlative survivor assistance, including expedited death benefit payments, securing all Government benefits available, preparing government and insurance claims for the bereaved families of our Members, and providing electronic and physical vault document storage. Supporting the military family doesn’t end at the death of the military member, AAFMAA continues to support the deceased Member’s spouse and minor children by informing them of all new or untapped Government benefits.
In 2014, AAFMAA is even more sound and secure. In addition to offering outstanding life insurance products and unmatched Member benefits, AAFMAA is now providing the Financial Planning, Investment Management and Trust Administration Services our Members have been requesting.
Over 142 years later, AAFMAA is still here providing the financial services needed today “to aid the families of the deceased Members in a prompt, simple and substantial manner” tomorrow.