FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Fort Rucker and Army Aviation Center Federal Credit Union hosted the 29th annual Army Emergency Relief golf Tournament March 15 at the post's Silver Wings Golf Course to help spread awareness and raise funds for the Soldiers Helping Soldiers program.

Col. Brian E. Walsh, Fort Rucker garrison commander, thanked all of the players, the credit union, the golf course staff and all of the others who made the tournament in support of AER happen.

"I can't think of a better cause to contribute to," the colonel said. "Last year at our small post, we put in $125 into the AER pot. We also issued about ($500,000) in aid to Soldiers and their families to help relieve them of the hardships they faced."

Last year's tournament raised about $16,000 for AER, and this year's event looks on target to match or exceed that amount, thanks to the more than 100 golfers who took part in the tournament, according to Kathy Scarbrough, Army Aviation Center Federal Credit Union, vice president of marketing.

"Part of our culture is to give back and, of course, one of the first causes we give back to are the Soldiers of Fort Rucker," she said. "This event is something we love doing because we know it is such a worthy cause. It's always a pleasure to work with the professionals here at Silver Wings Golf Course and all of the people on post who make it so easy to come out here, put on this tournament and raise funds for AER."

Above and beyond the funds raised, the tournament also helps with the goal of raising awareness of AER and what it does for Soldiers, according to Maj. Nelson Gray, 1-145th Aviation Regiment and Fort Rucker AER coordinator.

"It's a perfect way to bring people together for a great cause and another example of the community really coming together to support each other," he said. "It's the best way to incorporate the retired community, plus the active duty and other people working on post -- anyone can come play. It really is one of the best community activities you could ask for in terms of building relationships and coming together to support the program."

Gray said that two weeks into the 10-week campaign, which runs through May 15, things are looking good. "Initial reports are that the awareness and training, and donations, seem to be doing as well as other years if not a little ahead."

People can get more information or donate to AER by getting in contact with their unit AER coordinator, visiting www.aerhq.org, or by visiting or calling the local AER office in Bldg. 5700, Rm. 350 (255-2341).