My choice, my story, my pledge Published Oct. 16, 2014 By Maj. Nathan Maertens Combined Federal Campaign installation project officer PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (AFNS) -- As we prepare to kick-off this year's Combined Federal Campaign, think about the local charities and the services they provide. Think of the families who utilize those services. My family was one of them. My father was diagnosed with cancer when I was in junior high school. As a child it was hard to watch my hero wrecked by such a devastating disease. There were nights he was in too much pain to sleep. It was rough on all of us, but it was much worse for him. Fortunately, he won the battle and is still with us today. Fast forward several years. My brother, in his senior year at the U.S. Air Force Academy, was diagnosed with skin cancer. He was pulled out of school and put on the most aggressive experimental drugs. He fought the valiant fight, but this time we were not so lucky. My brother died at the young age of 22. This devastated our family and was definitely a formative experience in my life. One of the things I remember from both these experiences was the charity, the coming together of community that helped us carry on through those trying times. That is why I participate in CFC -- I want to give back. There are other people experiencing their own trials today and I want to support the organizations that will help them get back on their feet. Regardless of your interests, there is a charity in the CFC that supports it. This year they have created an exciting new option called Universal On-line Giving. Historically we could only donate to local or national-level charities. Not anymore. Now if you have a charity in your hometown that you care about, you can donate to that particular charity with your CFC contribution regardless of where you are assigned. Additionally, the CFC is built to afford tax advantages to the participating charities. That means more of your dollars reach the charities and are not absorbed by taxes or middle men. The most difficult part of participating in the CFC is deciding which charity speaks to you and how much you want to donate. Please help me in being excellent to each other and donate for a great cause.