Army Emergency Relief campaign underway through May 15

| March 19, 2019 | 0 Comments
Participants from the 2019 Army Emergency Relief Campaign Kickoff gather for a photo. Pictured are (from left to right) Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Cereghino, senior enlisted adviser, U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii; keynote speaker retired Command Sgt. Maj. Donald Vincent, chief, Loan Management, HQ AER, in Arlington, Virginia; the family of Sgt. John Sands, a motor transportation operator with the 25th Infantry Division, who gave a testimonial; and Command Sgt. Maj. Brian Hester of U.S. Army Hawaii and 25th Infantry Division. (Photo by Aiko Brum, U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii Public Affairs)

Participants from the 2019 Army Emergency Relief Campaign Kickoff gather for a photo. Pictured are (from left to right) Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Cereghino, senior enlisted adviser, U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii; keynote speaker retired Command Sgt. Maj. Donald Vincent, chief, Loan Management, HQ AER, in Arlington, Virginia; the family of Sgt. John Sands, a motor transportation operator with the 25th Infantry Division, who gave a testimonial; and Command Sgt. Maj. Brian Hester of U.S. Army Hawaii and 25th Infantry Division. (Photo by Aiko Brum, U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii Public Affairs)

Aiko Rose Brum 
Chief, Internal Communication
U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii – The Army Emergency Relief fundraising campaign kicked off, here, at the Nehelani, March 1. Command sergeants major from Headquarters, U.S. Army; the senior command, U.S. Army Hawaii; and U.S Army Garrison Hawaii explained to more than 150 Soldiers who are key leaders in their command how the private, nonprofit organization has been helping their battle buddies, retirees and families in financial distress since February 1942.

The 2019 AER goal is $116,000. (Photo by Aiko Brum, U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii Public Affairs)

The 2019 AER goal is $116,000. (Photo by Aiko Brum, U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii Public Affairs)

Hester

Hester

“The essence of what you’re going to do,” explained Command Sgt. Maj. Brian Hester of USARHAW and 25th Infantry Division, “is you’re going to help spread the word about what AER can do for our Soldiers. … It’s a really cool thing that AER does, and they don’t really ask a lot in return.”

Specifically, AER is the Army’s own emergency financial assistance organization dedicated to “helping the Army take care of its own.” It provides commanders a valuable asset in helping to enhance the morale and welfare of Soldiers and their families. The funds are made available based on a valid need.

“Since 1942, AER has assisted 3.7 million Soldiers and their families and given more than $1.8 billion in loans and grants to accommodate a wide variety of financial emergencies,” Hester explained, emphasizing “that money is generated by fundraising. … Among all military installations, Hawaii ranks among the top 10 of all installations that AER disperses those dollars to in assistance to those Soldiers.”

AER has helped with needs from car payments or funeral costs of deceased loved ones to car seats. The local goal is to reach $116,000 in contributions to aid comrades in Hawaii.

Sands

Sands

“We were extremely blessed to have been able to receive an EFMP (Exceptional Family Member Program) AER grant for our oldest child. He has special needs with several diagnoses,” said Sgt. John Sands, a motor transportation operator with A Company, 2-29th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Infantry Combat Team, 25th ID, who was providing a testimonial. “He was running away frequently, breaking out of windows, sleep walking in the middle of the night, and having significant angry outbursts that were being taken out on his younger siblings causing significant injuries.”

A medical team determined the best way to help the Sands family keep their child residing in their home was to install security cameras and an alarm system. Since the Sands family could not bear the thought of having their child live in an outside residential treatment system, they sought help from AER because of the many financial constraints of the purchase. They soon received relief with an AER EFMP grant to cover the costs.

“The security system has helped our family tremendously. We now have eyes and ears on our child at all times. We’re immediately alerted when he is woken up and leaves the premises. … We finally have some peace of mind,” Sands said.

Cereghino

Cereghino

Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Cereghino, senior enlisted adviser, USAG-HI thanked Sands for sharing his testimonial. Every week, Cereghino said, he has two to three cases with diverse concerns coming across his desk.

“The struggle is real. It is very difficult when you’re talking about coming into Hawaii, the high cost of living and the emergencies that come up,” Cereghino said.

Retired Army Sgt. Maj. Donald Vincent, Army Emergency Relief, Chief, Loan Management

Retired Army Sgt. Maj. Donald Vincent, Army Emergency Relief, Chief, Loan Management

He explained that in 2018 over a thousand Soldiers here in Hawaii alone – or 20 per week, or four or five Soldiers, every single day – applied for a loan. AER provided more than $2 million in Hawaii, he said.

Keynote speaker, retired Command Sgt. Maj. Donald Vincent, chief, Loan Management, HQ AER, in Arlington, Virginia, said, “Our theme is what we do, helping Soldiers on our left and our right. Leaving no comrade behind is just as important in the garrison as it is on the battlefield.”

He continued, “We service over 73 AER sections worldwide, and we want to make sure that all Soldiers are 100 percent informed about our programs and our benefits. We want to emphasize this is not only about the dollars Soldiers contribute to AER, it’s about increasing awareness. What donations offer are zero interest loans, scholarships, grants – to dependents, as well. Our role at AER headquarters is to ensure we match the dollars respectfully. We are good stewards of Soldiers’ money. It’s not our money; it’s the Soldiers’ money.”

Currently, 85 percent of AER requests can now be approved locally by first sergeants and company commanders, Vincent said. However, the only way assistance can be provided is by your generous donations.

Contribute to AER at www.aerhq.org.

Call 655-4227 for specific details.

Visit the AER Office at 310 Brannon Road, Schofield Barracks, in between the Post Exchange and Commissary.

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Category: Leadership, News

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