By Vanessa MarquetteJanuary 5, 2016
FORT BENNING, Ga., (Jan. 6, 2016) -- Farah Flores was diagnosed with leukemia in February 2015. Her daughter, Bernadette Flores, said her mother had been misdiagnosed many times before, but this time the cancer was confirmed.
Farah, a military spouse, was now in need of a bone marrow transplant.
After four of her siblings were tested, Farah's sister, Lehra Mai Odron, was confirmed a match.
The only problem: Odron was located in the Philippines, an ocean and some 8,700 miles away.
The next step on the path to Farah's treatment was to get Odron from the Philippines to Atlanta so they could move forward with the procedure.
Flores' husband, Staff Sgt. Romel Flores, reached out to Army Emergency Relief, or AEF, requesting a loan to cover Odron's travel costs. Lionel Grant, AER Officer, said that's when he decided the Flores Family deserved a grant.
AER is a private nonprofit organization and "its primary mission is to provide financial assistance to Soldiers, retirees, and their Families," according to its website.
"Romel came in and wanted a loan - he wanted to pay it back," Grant said. "But, looking at the overall situation, there was no way I would request a loan for him."
With the extensive trips to Atlanta for chemotherapy, as well as other appointments, the Flores Family was in real need of financial support. The Flores Family said AER has supported them in the past.
The costs have continued to mount as the Flores Family has been driving back and forth to Atlanta for Farah's chemotherapy three times a week, Romel said. Some of those costs are not covered.
Since Odron was not immediate Family, and was not covered under AER policy, the grant had to be approved through AER headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia.
The grant was accepted and the procedure was scheduled for Dec. 31 at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
The Flores Family and Odron said they are grateful for AER and for all that it did to help Farah. They are especially thankful for Grant who made it all possible.
"God sends angels," Odron said.
"And Mr. Grant is the angel," Farah said.
"It is a very difficult situation," said Odron, fighting back her tears. "But with having people, so many supportive people, and the Army, it is a big comfort."
Bernadette said she feels badly for her parents and for their unfortunate financial burden. She said she is grateful that AER was able to help her mother.
"I feel bad ... my dad has had to sacrifice a lot for me too because I'm a senior in high school," Bernadette said. "The class dues ... they just killed us on that."
"This [AER] was a really big help," she said.
Grant, who is a retired Air Force chief master sergeant with more than 30 years of service, said he enjoys his job and how his military experience helps him do his work.
"It is very rewarding," Grant said. "You learn [of] the different situations Soldiers and their Families go through, and after seeing that for awhile, you learn all the possibilities that can help them."
AER relies on donations to fund Soldiers and their Families when in need.