Army Emergency Relief aids Soldiers in times of distress, financial need

| March 12, 2010 | 0 Comments

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WASHINGTON — The Army conducts the Army Emergency Relief Annual Campaign from March 1st through May 15th each year to offer Soldiers the opportunity to help their fellow comrades, as well as increase Soldiers’ awareness of the valuable resource available to them.

The AER kickoff rally is scheduled March 19, from 10-11 a.m., at the Nehelani Conference Center, Schofield Barracks. All brigade, battalion, unit commanders, command sergeants major, project officers and interested Soldiers are asked to attend to support the campaign.

Individual Soldiers will be contacted by unit personnel for contributions, March 22-April 23.

Contributions are voluntary and donations generate interest-free loans to Soldiers and families in times of need. Funds support:

• Emergency assistance to include rent, food, emergency travel, essential car repair, funeral, medical and dental expenses.

• Soldiers medically evacuated from Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom

• Families of fallen Soldiers

• Children and spouse scholarships

Founded in 1942, the AER has provided more than $1.2 billion in assistance, and in the last five years alone has distributed nearly $300 million to more than 280,000 Soldiers and families for unforeseen cash flow problems, said Andrew Cohen, AER deputy director for finance.

“This is about ‘Soldiers helping Soldiers’ because most of the money was donated by Soldiers to help other Soldiers and their families,” Cohen said. “Most assistance is given as a loan and paid back to the fund so Soldiers can continue to help the next Soldier in need.”

For requests under $1,000, Soldiers should contact their chain of command due to a command referral program whereby company commanders and first sergeants have the authority to approve the loan.

Local installation AER sections can approve cases up to $3,500. For more than $3,500 in emergency funds, the local AER will forward the case to headquarters in Alexandria, Va.

Generally, AER interest-free loans have been under $1,000 for terms for 12-24 months, but in the case of larger loans, extensions may be granted on a case-by-case basis.

“Not only are extensions possible, but if repaying a loan creates an undue hardship, a Soldier can convert the loan to a grant,” Cohen said. “There’s no boiler plate solution to take care of a Soldier and family.”

It’s not uncommon for an emergency fund request to be dropped off at the local AER office in the morning, with the assistance check available by lunch. It’s quick, easy, convenient and interest free.

In 2009, AER provided $79 million in assistance to more than 71,000 Soldiers and their families, with 90 cents of every donated dollar going to Soldier and family programs.

AER accepts unsolicited donations at any time.

Category: Army News Service, Community

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