WASHINGTON (March 9, 2016) -- Financial security is a key element of a ready and resilient force. The Army Emergency Relief (AER) annual campaign is conducted from March 1st through May 15th in order to increase Soldier awareness of this benefit, as well as to provide an opportunity for Soldiers to donate and be able to help their fellow Soldiers. Local commanders can adjust their campaign dates as their mission dictates.

AER is a private nonprofit organization incorporated in 1942 to relieve financial distress of Soldiers and their dependents. AER provides financial assistance to Soldiers, retirees and their Families in the form of no-interest loans and grants in support of a variety of needs including:

Emergency assistance for rent, food, travel, car repair, funeral, medical and dental expenses, car seats, repair/replacement of appliances and HVAC equipment, rental cars, replacement vehicles, cranial helmets and furniture

CHILDREN AND SPOUSE SCHOLARSHIPS

- Grants to Soldiers medically evacuated from combat theaters

- Support to Families of fallen Soldiers

AER assistance is available to Soldiers, retirees and their Families wherever they are located. All Soldiers can apply for assistance directly at their local AER office. Soldiers, retirees 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 call the national American Red Cross call center at (877) 272-7337.

In 2015, the Army and AER disbursed more than $71 million in total assistance to nearly 47,000 active and retired Soldiers and Families to meet emergency financial and educational assistance needs. Since 1942, AER has provided more than $1.7 billion in assistance to more than 3.7 million Soldiers and Families.

In September 2015, AER made a major policy change which allows most Soldiers direct access to AER assistance. This assistance will continue to be available under the Commander's Referral Program, where company commanders and first sergeants have the authority to approve AER loans to their Soldiers up to $1,500 in interest free loans.

The Army supports AER and its annual AER campaign through mission, installation, and garrison commanders and CSMs personally insuring that Soldiers are made aware of the benefits of AER, as well as offering Soldiers the opportunity to donate to AER.

Soldiers, retirees and their Families need to know that AER assistance is available in times of financial need and that by donating to AER, they can continue the legacy of Soldiers Helping Soldiers. Army Emergency Relief is dedicated to Helping the Army Take Care of Its Own and provides Army leaders a valuable asset in ensuring a ready source of financial assistance to Soldiers and their Families.