USAG YONGSAN - Seventy five years after its founding, Army Emergency Relief remains a key resource for Soldiers in financial distress, and the lifeblood of the charity is donations from Soldiers. Eighth Army leaders highlighted the crucial value of the private charity at the March 1, 2017 AER Area II kickoff event at U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan.

"Many of us who have been in the Army for a few years, we know someone who has benefitted from AER," said Command Sgt. Maj. Richard E. Merritt, Eighth Army Command Sgt. Major. "There have been times in my career where I considered myself a model leader just because I marched a young man or woman into AER."

Army Emergency Relief is a non-profit charity, operated under Army regulations, that provides financial assistance to Soldiers, active and retired, and their families. Since it was founded in 1942 through the most recent year of data in 2015, AER has provided more than $1.7 billion to more than 3.7 million Soldiers and Families. Last year AER provided more than $54 million dollars in assistance to nearly 36,000 Soldiers and Families which includes $9 million for 4,102 scholarships to Spouses and Children of Soldiers.

For recipients of AER benefits in Area II in 2016, it was not just young Soldiers requesting assistance, as Sergeants 1st Class received more AER dollars than Privates 1st Class, according to Ryan Ritter, AER representative for Area II.

"I promise you, the help these Soldiers get from AER, in what may have been a very dark time, has made all the difference in the world," Merritt said. "AER has always been there for me as an ace in my pocket."

The AER campaign runs from March 1st through May 15th, with the goal of creating greater awareness of the benefits of AER as well as providing Soldiers the opportunity to help their fellow Soldiers. If you wish to donate to AER, or utilize its services, contact your unit AER representative.