FORT BENNING, Ga. (March 9, 2018) -- The Fort Benning Army Emergency Relief staff kicked off the monthlong AER fundraising campaign during a ceremony at the Benning Club at Fort Benning, Georgia, March 8.

AER, a non-profit organization, provides financial assistance to service members and their Families in the form of no- or low-interest loans, grants and scholarships.

Last year, Fort Benning raised more than $160,000 during the AER campaign, according to Lionel Grant, Fort Benning's AER officer, and in return, AER gave out almost $3 million to the community.

U.S. Army Garrison Command Sergeant Major William D. Pouliot served as guest speaker during the event.

"We are Soldiers taking care of Soldiers, and that makes everyone here very important people, because you have decided to invest in the future of our force," said Pouliot.

As a junior Soldier, Pouliot said he has personally benefitted from AER assistance. While he and his Family moved from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, to Hawaii with his wife and 14-month-old son, an error occurred with Pouliot's pay.

"I received no paycheck for two months," he said. "The only way I survived was because one of my leaders took me to the local AER office."

The ceremony was followed by "project person" training for the Soldiers who will raise funds at their respective units.

"It's easy for people to fall into financial hardships, especially as a private with a Family," said 2nd Lt. Ruston Cleveland, the project person for Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 46th Infantry Regiment, at Fort Benning. "AER is an easy way for us to ensure our Soldiers can get help while staying safe."

Grant said AER is available to all Soldiers and Family members, and does not discriminate.

"We are there for you regardless of rank or need," he said.

To learn more, visit "Army Emergency Relief" in the "Related Links" section on this page.