FORT RUCKER, Ala. (September 1, 2011) -- Army Emergency Relief is a private, non-profit organization that provides emergency financial assistance to active duty Soldiers, retirees, Family members, survivors, National Guard and Reserve.

Recently, a few changes have been enacted in order to provide greater flexibility for Soldiers and Families in need, said Mimi Brooks, AER Relief Officer.

Primarily, the changes in AER policy pertain to how assistance is distributed and the amount of time allowed for repayment of certain loans. One such loan is the Commander's Referral Program loan, which according to AER reports, represents approximately 29 percent of all AER assistance cases Army-wide.

As of Aug. 1, the loan's maximum amount of assistance has been raised to $1,500 in order to accommodate the changing financial needs of Soldiers.

"When the program began in 2005, the maximum amount of assistance was established at $1,000. This amount was determined based upon the average loan being around $850. Today, the average AER assistance exceeds $1,000," said Brooks.

The length of time allotted to repay the Commander's Referral Program loan has been extended from 12 to 15 months in to provide an even more "reasonable monthly payment amount," she added.

Beginning today, some applications for AER assistance will also see changes. Applicants holding a rank at or above master sergeant, chief warrant officer 3, or captain will no longer be required to have their company commander or first sergeant's signatures when seeking assistance.

"AER recognizes that by virtue of a Soldiers ranks, there are certain actions they can accomplish on the installation without having their company commander or first sergeant's signatures. This change has been implemented to stay in line with this concept," said Brooks.

Also, calls to AER placed after business hours, or on weekends and holidays, will now be routed to the American Red Cross military call center. Red Cross representatives will be able to assist with emergency leave situations and privation issues after hours. All other requests for assistance will still be provided by AER during normal operating hours, said Brooks, adding that the American Red Cross works under a partnership agreement with AER that allows for this opportunity.

"The American Red Cross has a long history of providing service to members of America's military and their families during conflicts, peacekeeping and humanitarian operations. This will benefit Fort Rucker AER efforts to provide applicants assistance electronically due to time constraints after duty hours," she said.

Even with these new regulations, the AER's mission to "help the Army take care of its own" remains unchanged.

For more information on AER, call 255-2341 or visit Bldg. 5700 Rm. 390. After hours calls can be made to the American Red Cross at (877) 272-7337.

Page last updated Wed August 31st, 2011 at 16:06