PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. – While the annual Army Emergency Relief (AER) campaign kicked off in March, the COVID-19 outbreak sidelined those initial fundraising efforts. As a result, the 2020 AER campaign has been extended through July 31.“AER supports Soldiers by providing zero interest loans and grants to active duty and retired Soldiers and their spouses in times of financial need,” said SFC Matthew Peterson, AER coordinator. “There are many different categories of assistance to include basic living allowances (rent, mortgage, and monthly bills), POV expenses (maintenance, repair, gas, and emergency purchase), some medical costs, and unforeseen emergencies.”In recent years the participation at the Presidio of Monterey and Defense Language Institute has grown exponentially. In 2018, only 7 donations were recorded. Last year that number rose to 50 donations. Before the outbreak of COVID-19 the campaign's efforts had resulted in over 100 donations.“This year, we set out to reach that participation goal of 23% for POM, but we also set a modest dollar amount goal of $6,500. With our campaign opening ceremony, we absolutely crushed that goal. We are currently sitting at about 17% participation and around $13,000!” said Peterson.During July the representatives for the AER campaign are planning to have tables out in high traffic areas like the commissary, exchange, and dining facilities to continue raising money for those experiencing financial hardship.Peterson suggests those who wish to donate should, “…contact their AER Representative at the unit, or their drill sergeant.“At the beginning of the month a joint letter was issued by Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy, Army Chief of Staff Gen. James C. McConville, and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael A. Grinston where they spoke about the importance of AER in maintaining mission readiness.“Our primary focus remains the defense of our great Nation, while protecting and assisting the Army's most valuable resource: our people. AER is there to support Soldiers and Army Families through this fight, and we will be there to support AER.”The Army Emergency Relief program has been supporting Soldiers since 1942 with crucial financial assistance when needed the most. To learn more about how AER provides support during the COVID-19 pandemic, or to make donation online visit https://www.armyemergencyrelief.org/.