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Brig. Gen. Bryan Roberts, Fort Jackson commanding general, explains the goals and intentions of the 2013 Army Emergency Relief campaign during a reception last week at the Joe E. Mann Center. AER is a private, non-profit organization that provides financial assistance to active duty and retired soldiers and their families.

FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Fort Jackson launched this year's Army Emergency Relief campaign Friday with a reception at the Joe. E. Mann Center.

The AER program is a private nonprofit organization established to help the Army provide financial assistance to Soldiers and their families through no-interest loans and grants, as well as
scholarships to children and spouses of active-duty and retired Soldiers. The campaign runs through May 15.
"AER has been doing what it does since 1942," Brig. Gen.
Bryan Roberts, Fort Jackson commanding general, told a gathering
of officials at last week's event. He reminded campaign leaders
of the important role that AER plays in maintaining a stable
Army community.
"(AER) has been relieving the stress on Soldiers and family
members, continually reinforcing individual Soldier resiliency
and complementing unit morale and esprit de corps, and enabling
Soldiers to do their job," Roberts said. "Since the war began,
AER has provided a total of $624 million to 618,000 Soldiers.
That is a tremendous amount of money and a tremendous amount
of Soldiers and families who benefitted from it. It's truly a campaign
during which we can collect money to take care of our
own."
In addition to the annual campaign, AER accepts unsolicited
donations from individual donors and corporations, though the
economy is expected to provide challenges to campaign leaders
this year, said Carla Atkinson, director of Army Community Service.
"I think this year's challenge is just the overall depressed
economy," Atkinson said. "People are unsure about what to do
with their money and are being more frugal."
The campaign has no set monetary goal, she said.
"It is about Soldiers helping Soldiers," Atkinson said. "The
money is given by Soldiers and given back to Soldiers. We just
want everybody to be contacted and given the opportunity to participate.
Even $10 a month would help. It doesn't have to be a
large amount or one lump sum. It can be taken out of (the Soldiers')
check periodically. If you give just a little bit, you're doing
something to help people."
AER assistance is available to Soldiers and their families
wherever they are located, and the amount of assistance is only
limited by the amount of the need. Soldiers and their family
members requiring AER assistance should contact their chain of
command or local AER office.
Under the AER Command Referral Program, company commanders
and first sergeants have the authority to approve AER
loans to their Soldiers up to $1,000. Based on reciprocal agreements,
Soldiers and families not near an AER office can seek
assistance from the Air Force Aid Society, Navy Marine Corps
Relief Society, and Coast Guard Mutual Assistance on their respective
bases or seek assistance from the local chapter of the
American Red Cross.
"In fiscal year 2012, Fort Jackson AER assisted 600 families
with over $770,000. That's after collecting $270,000, ourselves,"
Roberts said. "The campaign starts here, but gets larger as the
entire Army participates in it. It would behoove us, and is incumbent
upon us as leaders, to make sure we support this campaign."

Page last updated Fri March 8th, 2013 at 00:00