By Jim Hughes, Fort Rucker Public AffairsJune 6, 2019
FORT RUCKER, Ala -- Fort Rucker reaffirmed its commitment to Soldiers helping Soldiers with one of its most successful Army Emergency Relief awareness campaigns that ran March 1-May 15.
The successful effort to educate Soldiers and the Fort Rucker community on how AER helps Soldiers help Soldiers and the $146,693.94 raised to help the cause made this the second most successful campaign in recent memory, said Maj. Nelson Gray, 1-145th Aviation Regiment and Fort Rucker AER campaign coordinator, at the closing ceremony June 4 at The Landing.
The campaign coordinator credited the hard work of the AER staff and unit AER coordinators with the campaign's success.
"Each year, the campaign focuses on two main elements. The primary one being AER education across the formation for all Soldiers and retirees, as well as community support," Gray said. "The other aspect is campaign contributions. This includes active duty, retirees, spouses and community organizations. This year, we trained over 4,000 Soldiers in just over 12 weeks. While this may seem impressive, it was all due to our unit coordinators' significant effort on a day-to-day basis and what they put forward to execute this campaign."
Col. Brian E. Walsh, Fort Rucker garrison commander, AER chairperson and speaker at the event, was equally enthused with the results of the campaign.
"Soldiers experience financial burdens at times, and many predatory lenders are out there willing to seize on those opportunities," the colonel said. "Yet we have this organization called AER that stands ready to provide the assistance Soldiers need.
"This campaign is essential -- a campaign that unit coordinators push through the daily grind to get out there and pass on what AER does, and the ease of use of the thing," Walsh added. "It's ease of use is different now because for many senior NCOs and officers, it wasn't that easy back in our day."
Walsh spoke about the AER Company Commander and First Sergeant Quick Assist Program where company commanders and first sergeants can get Soldiers help to the tune of $2,000. And the post AER coordinator can bump that aid up to $3,000 and the garrison sergeant major can push it to $4,000, if warranted -- all on the same day it is requested.
"It may not always be a grant, it could be in the form of a loan or a combination of the two -- but it's a same-day manifestation of results to help Soldiers experiencing financial burdens," the commander said.
In the past year, AER has issued more than $146,000 in scholarships to the Fort Rucker community, and provided more than $157,000 in aid, the colonel said. "That's wonderful, and that's how your work as AER coordinators manifests itself -- actually helping Soldiers and families."
The colonel and Command Sgt. Maj. Jasper C. Johnson, garrison command sergeant major, handed out certificates of appreciation to the unit AER coordinators and also a symbolic check representing the amount raised during the campaign to Beth Gunter, Army Community Service financial counselor who works with AER at Fort Rucker.