By Ms. Mary Ann Davis (IMCOM)February 23, 2018
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany -- The annual Army Emergency Relief campaign begins March 1, and U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz is committed to helping Soldiers in need.
AER was established 76 years ago to assist Soldiers and their family members in emergency situations to avoid financial hardship. Monetary assistance is given in the form of interest-free loans, grants or combination of the two.
"Army Emergency Relief is the only organization that provides financial assistance to active-duty, retired, Army Reserve and National Guard Soldiers and their family members as well as survivors of Soldiers that died while on active duty," said Carlos Alvarez, USAG RP AER representative. "Assistance is normally provided in the form of an interest free loan, a grant or a combination of both."
When a Soldier goes to Army Community Services seeking assistance for a financial emergency, an AER officer will review the application, which includes a budget form, a completed AER form and documents supporting the need. The AER officer will then interview the individual to determine the course of action most beneficial to the Soldier, Alvarez explained.
The program also provides need-based undergraduate college scholarships for spouses and children of active-duty and retired Soldiers. The Spouse Education Assistance Program and the Maj. Gen. James Ursano Scholarship Program are need-based scholarship programs created to help Army spouses and children of Army Soldiers obtain their undergraduate degrees.
Alvarez, a retired sergeant major with 28 years of active-duty service, said he first heard of AER when he was going through Army Basic Combat Training.
"One of the Soldiers in my platoon had a death in his family. The soldier was allowed to go home for a week to attend his father's funeral and AER assisted with his travel expenses," he recalled. "Because of this, I learned about AER early in my Army career. Throughout my time in the service, I had several Soldiers under my supervision that received AER assistance for things such as rent, electric, gas, telephone bills and vehicle repairs."
Donating to AER is relatively easy. People can donate using the traditional paper pledge form, online at www.aerhq.org or through the AER phone app.
"Army Emergency Relief is about taking care of our Soldiers past, present and future -- it stands to reason each of us play a pivotal role in AER's ability to provide this continued support," said USAG RP Command Sgt. Maj. Brian N. Hauke. "Through our donations to this storied 76 year old organization, they are able to help relieve the distress of Soldiers and their families. The AER motto, "Soldiers helping Soldiers," never rings truer than during the AER campaign!"
There are two AER Kickoff Breakfast events taking place in USAG RP:
• Feb. 28 from 7:30 to 9 a.m. at Hard Rock Dining Facility at Baumholder
• March 1 from 7 to 8:30 a.m. at Armstrong's Club on Vogelweh. Tickets are $11.50 and are available at the door.
Alvarez said although the AER campaign runs for 60 days, the program accepts donations anytime throughout the year.
"AER is a not for profit private organization and is the only entity providing direct financial assistance to Soldiers and their families. There is no other program that matches AER assistance," he concluded.
For more information or to donate, call AER specialists at Baumholder at DSN 531-2850 or civilian 0611-143-531-2850 or Kaiserslautern at DSN 541-9000 or civilian 0611-143-541-9000 or contact your unit AER representative today.