WASHINGTON -- The Army Emergency Relief program has implemented changes to assist Soldiers and families impacted by the spread of COVID-19.
The new guidelines ensure that Soldiers and families can process assistance applications on time, while under quarantine or observing limited face-to-face interaction, said retired Command Sgt. Maj. Charles Durr Jr., chief of assistance.
Soldiers and families must first inform their chain of command of their current financial hardship. They will then need to fill out an AER application and supporting documentation and route it up to their chain of command for approval.
Any documents containing personally identifiable information must be transmitted securely, officials said. Soldiers are asked to notify a local AER officer of their intent to submit an assistance application and request a DOD Safe secure document upload link. The electronic request for assistance must include:
- AER Form 101, Application for Financial Assistance
- AER Form 57, AER Budget Planning Sheet
- AER Form 575, AER Electronic Funds Transfer Authorization
- Supporting documents validating financial need
Once a Soldier's chain of command has approved an application, it must be sent to an AER official for final review.
"The AER special assistance application processing guidelines have been well received by unit leadership," Durr said.
Unit leadership has "been effectively processing assistance cases electronically via secure portal transmission, and Headquarters AER has been electronically depositing funds into Soldier's bank accounts successfully," he added.
As of Friday, AER has processed 14 cases totaling more than $15,000, Durr said. Out of the total number, four cases supported personnel under quarantine, five provided financial assistance due to loss of pay, and five aided personnel impacted by the recent travel ban.
“After 34-years of service, I have seen the benefits of the AER program to our Soldiers,” said Army Vice Chief Staff Gen. Joseph M. Martin. “I encourage leaders to educate themselves about the program and join the campaign by sharing what they learned about the benefits of AER and invite their Soldiers to voluntarily join the legacy of Soldiers helping Soldiers."
TRAVEL BAN, PCS STOP MOVEMENT
Soldiers impacted by the recent Department of Defense stop movement order -- which has halted the majority of permanent change-of-station moves -- can also request AER financial assistance.
Some Soldiers and families have already shipped their household goods and vehicles, but the travel ban is preventing them from accessing their next duty location, Durr said.
AER can help fund the basic necessities Soldiers and families will need to get through this challenging time, he added.
Soldiers who aren't under any travel restrictions can visit their closest AER office for support. Those who cannot visit should follow the same steps to submit an electronic request for assistance.
NON-TITLE 10 RESERVE, GUARD
To provide support to all Soldiers impacted by COVID-19, AER will allow non-Title 10 National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers affected by the virus or travel ban to request assistance, officials said. Applicants will be considered on a case-by-case basis, for extreme hardship.
Under normal conditions, all active-duty Soldiers and their dependents, along with Reserve and Guard Soldiers activated on Title 10 orders for more than 30 days and their dependents, are qualified for AER assistance, officials said.
Non-Title 10 personnel must securely transmit their AER request and supporting documentation to a field grade officer or command sergeant major within their chain of command. The Soldier must then send the application to AER headquarters at firstname.lastname@example.org for final approval.