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WASHINGTON (Army News Service, March 17, 2008) -- The annual Army Emergency Relief Campaign began March 1 and continues through May 15.

The theme of this year's campaign is "Army Emergency Relief: Strength for Soldiers and their Families."

The purpose of the Army's annual AER Campaign is twofold, said retired Lt. Gen. Robert F. Foley, director of Army Emergency Relief: "First, to create greater awareness of the Army Emergency Relief benefits and programs available to Soldiers and their Families."

He further explained that the campaign provides an opportunity for Soldiers to help fellow Soldiers by making a donation to Army Emergency Relief and continue the proud legacy of "helping the Army take care of its own."

AER was founded in 1942 for Soldiers and their Families who needed financial assistance during World War II. Since its founding, AER has provided over $1 billion in financial assistance in no-interest loans or outright grants.

AER assistance is available to Soldiers and their Families, wherever they are located and the amount of assistance is only limited by a valid need.

Today's AER also provides educational assistance in the form of scholarships to children and spouses of active-duty and retired Soldiers, along with support to surviving Families of fallen Soldiers, and grants to widows and wounded warriors.

In 2007, AER provided more than 64,000 active-duty and retired Soldiers and their Families with well over $70 million in assistance. AER provided assistance for unexpected financial stress including travel, housing, car repair, utilities, medical expenses, funeral costs and disaster relief.

"You're already dealing with going to war and your only son has cancer," said Spc. Eddie L. Sherrod, a fire-detection specialist with Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 27th Artillery Regiment. "AER actually paid all my medical bills, and they didn't give me a loan and that's one great thing about it...I think that helped us a whole lot, mentally because I was really drained. That boosted me up a whole lot."

Soldiers and their Family members requiring AER assistance can contact their unit chain of command or go to their installation AER office.

AER's command referral program is a way for Soldiers' chains of command to address their financial problems, and has dramatically increased Soldiers' access to AER assistance. It gives company and battery commanders and first sergeants the authority to approve up to $1,000 in interest-free loans for their Soldiers.

"Being able to provide financial assistance to Soldiers in their time of need is the right thing to do. They're out there every day, willing to deploy to areas where they might be put in harm's way. They're leaving their Families behind. We have the resources. We're ready to assist and we're happy to provide them," said Foley.

Full details on AER's assistance programs are available from unit AER officers or on the web at <a href="http://www.aerhq.org"target=_blank>www.aerhq.org</a>.

Page last updated Mon March 17th, 2008 at 10:01