Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield kicked off the 2020 Army Emergency Relief Campaign Feb. 25, during the installation's community leader's information forum at the Fort Stewart main post chapel.
"Here at Fort Stewart and Hunter we issue out the third most assistance in the United States Army," said Command Sgt. Maj. Rebecca Myers, Fort Stewart and Hunter garrison senior enlisted leader. "Last year we distributed a little more than $3 million to Soldiers, Families and retirees."
AER assists active-duty Soldiers, Family members, and surviving spouses of Soldiers, who died while on active duty or while retired. This assistance provides funds for rent, utilities, food, funeral expenses, emergency medical care, additional acquired needs, and scholarships to spouses and children of Soldiers.
"Many Soldiers and Family members use AER assistance for emergency travel," said Sgt. 1st Class Yuliya Krivitchenko, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division, unit supply specialist.
Although AER assists those in need, very few contribute to the program.
"In the Army, when it comes to bringing those funds back in through fund raising, only about seven percent of the active-duty component contribute to that fund raising," Myers said. "This program is all about helping each other; it's not about a handout or about a charity."
Last year Fort Stewart and Hunter received more than $126,000 worth of donations for the AER campaign and assisted nearly 3,000 Soldiers, Families and spouses combined.
"I would like to raise at least $2,000 from the HHBN," Krivitchenko said, who is more than halfway to her goal.
Krivitchenko said Soldiers and Family members can begin the AER assistance process by speaking with their supervisor, contacting Army Community Service, or speaking with an AER unit representative.
"One of the things that you are going to get when you send a Soldier over to Army Emergency Relief to get some assistance is making them better by the time they leave that office," Myers said. "We are going to sit down with them and go over how to make them more financially stable in the future. So, that is definitely a benefit to using the AER program."
In addition to loans and grants, the AER program offers additional categories to help provide assistance.
Myers said when those in need come to get assistance, the AER representative will help with getting grants or interest-free loans without causing additional financial problems for the Soldier or their Family.
"We can help out with scholarship funds, car seat assistance, and medical care that is not covered by Tricare," said Myers. "There is a ton of assistance out there. If you are not teaching your junior leaders about what kind of categories for assistance we have, people don't know and then they go out and get themselves in trouble."
According to Myers, the AER Headquarters provided more than $3.5 million worth of assistance in 2019 and she is hoping that the installation will meet its goal this year.
Myers said she hopes the Soldiers and Families contribute to the AER program.
"Help us make this a great program and help us meet our goal this year," Myers said.
For additional information and to donate, see unit representatives or visit https://www.aerhq.org/Financial-Assistance.