By Al Vogel, Dugway Public AffairsMarch 9, 2016
DUGWAY PROVING GROUND, Utah -- Two weeks before Dugway Proving Ground launched its Army Emergency Relief (AER) donation drive, a retired Army Staff Sergeant obtained a quick loan from Dugway's AER to repair water damage to his Salt Lake City home
Assistant AER Officer Brent Console worked with the elderly soldier, and soon had him approved for an interest-free loan.
"Often, if they apply in the morning, they can have the check in-hand that day," Console said.
Created in 1942, the AER is a private, nonprofit organization funded by contributions from active-duty and inactive reserve soldiers, and civilians. It provides emergency financial assistance grants or no-interest loans, or a combination, to soldiers and their families. Scholarships are also offered (deadline May 1, 2016) for dependent children or spouses of active duty, retired or deceased soldiers.
Although he did not attend the donation drive, the retired soldier later praised the AER for an affordable, emergency loan to repair his home.
"I appreciate the Army Emergency Relief fund and all that it does not only for me, but for all other veterans that need assistance," he said. "I've used it before and I've always paid it back."
He also praised the Dugway AER staff, and Console in particular.
"Whenever I've been able to go out there and needed help, Brent Console has been very excellent in his service. He's been very dedicated and most helpful in every way he could be. He tries to do everything with email, so you only have to go out there once."
Thirty-five soldiers and civilians attended Dugway's Feb. 29 campaign launch. They were encouraged to contribute via DA Form 4908, designating payroll deduction or a single contribution. More information is at www.aerhq.org.
The Air Force Aid Society office at Hill Air Force Base and any American Red Cross office can also assist with AER fund requests.
Last year, Dugway soldiers and civilians contributed $24,829, and 25 soldiers or their families were helped, Console said. The 2016 goal is a five percent increase to $26,070.45.
Loans or grants may be provided for rent or mortgage, utilities, food, medical, dental, funeral expenses, vehicle repair, travel funds for PCS relocation, essential furniture, minor home repairs, repair or replacement of major appliances and other needs.
Garrison Manager Don Smith said that approximately half of the requests for AER assistance come from Army retirees.
U.S. Army Dugway Proving Ground is the nation's designated Major Range and Test Facility Base for Chemical and Biological Defense (C/B) Testing and Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) Support, conducting efficient testing and support to enable our nation's defenders to counter chemical, biological, radiological, and explosives (CBRE) hazards. Dugway Proving Ground provides unparalleled testing, evaluation, training, and technical support to the Department of Defense, inter-agency partners, and our Allies.