While glancing out into the crowd of green suited Soldiers, Fort Jackson's Commander Maj. Gen. John "Pete" Johnson places a hand up in the air.

"Raise your hand if you ever leveraged, as a leader AER to help soldier your Family," he asks.

Half of the room responds by placing theirs high in the air.

Fort Jackson kicked off its Army Emergency Relief fundraising campaign season Feb. 28 at the NCO
Club. The campaign lasts until May 15.

"This is one company where we are helping ourselves directly. This is Soldiers helping Soldiers, Soldiers helping Soldier Families," said Johnson. "If you can't get fired up about this cause, you got some real issues."

AER is a nonprofit organization incorporated in 1942 by the Secretary of War and the Chief of Staff
of the Army, of that time. The mission of the organization is to provide emergency financial assistance to Soldiers and their Families. This year makes 75 years of AER providing this service.

"It's just like the AER slogan says, it's "Helping the Army take care of its own," said AER specialist
Wanda Redd about the importance of the organization.

Instead of going outside the gate and going to the predatory lenders and getting the high interest loans, Soldiers can come and see AER because we provide no interest loans to Service members."

Last fiscal year, Fort Jackson donated about $100,000 for the campaign. The post's AER was able
to give over a million dollars in assistance to more than 700 Soldiers.

"It helps with readiness because if a Soldier is on a battlefield or out there on the range and they have an emergency going on back home, whether it is they are behind on rent, mortgage or have a huge utility bill, that they don't have the funds to pay, they are not going to be focus on the mission because they're going to be thinking about the problems at home," said Angela Crosland, Financial Readiness Program Manager.

AER provides no interest loans and grants for financial emergencies to Soldiers, retirees and Family
members. Qualifications are not based on credit but, based on your eligibility and the need.

This year AER Army wide hopes to raise about $12 million in donations.

"All of those hands I seen out there are connected to this program making a difference for a Soldier and their Family," said Johnson.

To donate or to apply for assistance visit https://www.aerhq.org/.