Fort Leonard Wood's Army Emergency Relief Campaign ended June 16 with a record-setting year, blasting through two campaign goals to raise $175,345.

The original goal for the campaign, beginning in early March, was $125,000 but donors met that goal on May 2, which prompted AER officials to set a new goal of $175,000. According to Capt. Luke Grieder and Staff Sgt. Titi Kaisa, campaign staff, the total surpassed the original goal by more than 40 percent.

This is the first time in recent years that the installation has not only met the initial goal, but exceeded it. Chuck Matthews, AER officer, said campaign staff worked to make sure every training company on the installation received an AER briefing.

"Capt. Grieder and I were willing to make presentations after normal hours and on weekends, when it was more convenient for the companies to have time for the AER presentations. He and I briefed more than 25 companies on nights and weekends over an 8-week period," Matthews said.

Matthews said the pair emphasized what AER can do for Soldiers and their Families when in need, with real-life examples of what AER has done over the years.

"We downplayed the asking for money, and played up what AER does, and how Soldiers help each other through AER," Matthews said.

In 2016, Fort Leonard Wood's AER provided $583,753 in loans and grants to 456 local Soldiers and retirees, and AER headquarters provided $145,995 in scholarships to 61 Fort Leonard Wood spouses and dependent children, Matthews said.

AER provides emergency financial assistance to Soldiers, retirees and Family members. AER funds can be used for things such as emergency travel, convalescent leave, mortgage or rent payment assistance, utility, food and fuel help, vehicle payment or emergency repairs, minor home repairs and more, Matthews said.

AER began in 1942 and is the Army's emergency financial assistance organization. Since its beginning, the program has provided more than $1.7 billion to Soldiers and their Families in the forms of loans, grants and scholarships.

AER educational scholarships are awarded through two programs, the MG James Ursano Scholarship Program for dependent children, and the AER Spouse Scholarship Program for spouses.

In 2016 AER provided 4,245 scholarships worth $9.1 million, Mathews said.

"The scholarships are awarded based on financial need and are awarded annually for up to four academic years to attend post-secondary school full time as undergraduate level students," Matthews said.

AER officials are scheduled to present a ceremonial check to Col. Tracy Lanier, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Larry Orvis, USAG Fort Leonard Wood command sergeant major, July 7 at the Army Community Service Center.

For more information on donating to AER, contact Grieder or Kaisa at 573.596.0131, ext. 62600. To request emergency assistance, contact Matthews at 573.596.0131, ext. 60212.