KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany -- Army Emergency Relief is a private, 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization that was created to provide funds to help Soldiers with unexpected immediate financial needs like rent, utilities, emergency travel, and more.This year marks the 78th year AER has been helping Soldiers and their families.“Army Emergency Relief is the Army's only non-profit organization that provides interest-free loans, grants, loan/grant combinations and scholarships for Active Duty, retirees and their families,” said Paul Collins, U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz AER officer.Some people get AER confused with the Combined Federal Campaign, which allows service members to donate to any number of organizations. While both are worthy of donations, there is a difference.The USAG Rheinland-Pfalz 2021 awareness and donation campaign will run March-May through unit representatives and social media.“The campaign will bring awareness to the programs available through Army Emergency Relief in addition to seeking campaign donations in order to continue to serve the needs of soldiers and families where they serve,” said Monica Teel, USAG RP Army Community Service Financial Readiness Program supervisor.Although the AER campaign is projected to occur March through May 2021, unit representatives will start their training as early as January.“AER is a single, non-profit financial assistance organization, with 90 cents of every dollar donated going to assist Soldiers and their families,” Collins said. “AER is intended to be a Soldier's first choice in requesting emergency financial assistance.”In 2019, AER provided $70 million in the form of interest-free loans and grants to 40 thousand families across the U.S. Army, according to the AER web site at www.armyemergencyrelief.org.However, AER cannot provide financial assistance for every financial emergency a Soldier or their family may face. Limitations include debt consolidation, legal fees, home improvement projects or the financing of ordinary leave or vacation.“Most of our assistance cases go for car repair, utilities, rent, and emergency travel. One case, for example, was an interest-free loan provided to a married, junior enlisted Soldier who had approved leave to attend their spouse's grandfather's funeral,” Collins said.AER has made changes to some of their policies to support Soldiers and their families currently impacted by COVID-19.One change in particular is the Home School and Remote Education Assistance Program. This program assists Army families with the costs of home school and virtual or distance learning education supplies and equipment, providing up to $1,500 in the form of loans, grants or a combination of both related to the unexpected expenses incurred as a result of the transition from classroom to a virtual setting.AER also provides emergency funds to Soldiers' orphans and surviving spouses, and offers undergraduate scholarships to spouses and children of both active and retired Soldiers.Soldiers, regardless of rank, can start their application process by contacting ACS at either the Kaiserslautern or Baumholder ACS front desk for an application packet using the direct access program. However, if a Soldier has less than one year on duty they will need a recommendation from their chain of command before their application can be approved.For more information about USAG Rheinland-Pfalz Army Emergency Relief, call our main hub location in Kaiserslautern via DSN 541-9012/9000 or commercial 0611 143 541 9012/9000 or our spoke location at Baumholder via DSN 531-2850 or commercial at 0611 143 531 2850 for an application.