The 2018 Army Emergency Relief Campaign began March 8 with a kick-off ceremony at 11 a.m. in the Main Post Chapel. This year's goal is $125,000 from active-duty Soldiers.

Raymond Mason, Army Emergency Relief director, was this year's guest speaker.

AER provides a variety of emergency financial assistance to Soldiers, retirees and family members, including travel costs for emergency or convalescent leave, mortgage or rent payment assistance, utility, food and fuel help, POV payment or emergency repairs, travel costs for PCS, minor home repairs for heating/cooling/electrical and plumbing, child car seats and cranial helmets, dependent dental care assistance, and appliance repair or replacement, among other things.

One of the newest policies for AER is that active-duty Soldiers on verified emergency leave travel may be able to get 50 percent or more of necessary travel costs as a grant.

AER also provides educational scholarships awarded through two programs, the Maj. Gen. James Ursano Scholarship Program for dependent children, and the AER Spouse Scholarship Program for spouses.

In 2017, AER provided 4,345 scholarships worth $8.7 million. 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. Funds are to assist with academic expenses while attending a university or school.

The 2018-2019 scholarships are being accepted online through May 1 this year. In 2017, AER awarded $146,145 in scholarships to 42 children and 19 spouses at Fort Leonard Wood.

Capt. Jason Cook and 2nd Lt. Nick Morales are the campaign staff for 2018, and are in the
ACS office.

The money from the fund-raising campaign goes toward assisting local Soldiers, Retirees and their dependents throughout the year. In 2017 local AER staff provided $548,912 in loans and grants to 430 local Soldiers and retirees.

Mason, a retired lieutenant general, also met with various community groups March 9. These groups were intended to inform the Army community of new policies and procedures within AER, as
well as hear from Soldiers and family members on their experience and knowledge of AER and its services.

For more information on the ceremony or how to donate, contact Cook or Morales at 573.596.2600, or to request assistance, call Chuck Matthews, AER officer, at 573.596.0212.