SOLDIERS HELPING SOLDIERS -- Army Emergency Relief stands ready to support during pandemic
By Jim Hughes, Fort Rucker Public AffairsApril 17, 2020
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- While much has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, one constant remains -- Army Emergency Relief stands ready to help Soldiers help Soldiers.Despite the economic crunch associated with the pandemic, local AER officials aren’t seeing an uptick of requests from Soldiers for support, according to Beth Gunter, Army Community Service AER financial counselor.“I don’t know if it’s that they don’t know that we’re here, or if the stay at home policy is a concern,” she said, adding that the office is always manned and the staff is taking steps to keep people who need support safe when coming to AER.“People need to make appointments with us because of the health concerns, but that doesn’t mean we’re not providing AER assistance during the COVID-19 situation,” Gunter said. “In fact, this is a time when there are probably more financial hardships going on – such as a spouse who has lost their job, and the needs of a family are not being met by just the Soldier’s income.“AER can help out, provide assistance,” she added. “If someone was financially impacted because of the stop movement, we can provide assistance in that aspect, as well. We want Soldiers to know that we understand it may have to be an exception to what we typically do, but we do want to help out if we’re able to in order to keep them from going into further financial hardship.”She said much of the process of getting help from AER can be done on the phone or via encrypted email, but the first step is to call the staff at 255-2341.“That way I can discuss the situation with them, so I know what paperwork to send to them so they can start the process,” she said, adding that people should not hesitate to reach out for a helping hand if they find themselves in need. “At least make that phone call and see how the program works, what the process is and the benefits of the program. We’re an Army family and we’re here to help each other. That’s what AER is all about – helping each other.“It could be during normal times, when we’re here for vehicle repairs, emergency leave, special needs equipment for children,” she said. “But it’s also about during this unexpected pandemic, where we’re learning all kinds of new things every day and different financial hardships are occurring, so we want to make sure that we stick together through this.”Soldiers won’t find a better deal, either, as relief comes in the form of 0% loans, and grants that don’t need to be paid back.For more information on AER and how it helps Soldiers help Soldiers, call the Fort Rucker staff at 255-2341. People who would like to donate to the program can visit https://www.armyemergencyrelief.org/.