Fort McCoy began its support for the 79th Army Emergency Relief (AER) Campaign on Feb. 25 with a campaign kick-off breakfast at McCoy’s Community Center on post.
The AER campaign runs from March 1 to May 15, according to the AER webpage, www.armyemergencyrelief.org. AER helps provide emergency financial funds for food, rent, funeral expenses, emergency medical expenses, and other needs. Contributions to AER help active-duty Soldiers (single and married) and their families, retirees and their family members, and surviving spouses or orphans of Soldiers who died while on active duty or after they retired.
The breakfast, held with social distancing and COVID-19 pandemic safety protocols in place, included dozens of Fort McCoy community members. The breakfast was organized by the Fort McCoy Army Community Service (ACS) Office with the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.
Fort McCoy Garrison Commander Col. Michael Poss provided opening remarks at the event.
“Last year, Soldiers at Fort McCoy donated a total of $6,198 for this campaign,” Poss said. “This year, we are hoping to exceed the 2020 donation totals. In order to do that, we are going to need everyone’s help. In addition to fundraising, we want to educate Soldiers on the importance of using AER.”
Poss said he and the Fort McCoy Garrison command team are reaching out to senior leaders across the installation to ensure 100 percent contact is made with all Soldiers about the campaign and AER.
“We want them to know what AER can do for them,” Poss said. “Not only is financial assistance available, but scholarships for spouses and children are also available. … By working together, we can make sure this campaign is an overwhelming success.”
Poss added that he’s proud of the Fort McCoy team as they support the campaign and AER.
“Here at Fort McCoy, we value diversity, equality, and inclusion for strong Army teams,” Poss said. “We have a positive climate because people are our number one resource in our community of effort. On behalf of the garrison command team, I want to thank you for everything you do her at Fort McCoy.”
ACS Director Kevin Herman led the discussion about the campaign. He noted how AER helps a large number of people in a many categories, including through financial assistance as well as scholarships. Herman said Fort McCoy scholarships awarded for the 2020-21 academic year included four scholarships for spouses of $8,538 and 31 scholarships for children totaling $121,125.
Herman also said the overall 2020 AER donations at Fort McCoy were $79,701.50 — $73,503.50 by retirees and $6,198.01 by active-duty service members. “This year we want to exceed what we saw in 2020,” he said.
Dianne Sommers with ACS and Command Sgt. Maj. Paul Mantha, garrison command sergeant major, also shared testimonials of financial and scholarship support through AER and encouraged people to support it.
On the AER website, AER Chairman, retired Army Gen. John F. Campbell, states the importance AER and of supporting it.
“Army Emergency Relief has always been an important tool for commanders,” Campbell is quoted on the page. “In my nearly 40 years of service, I repeatedly witnessed the impact Army leaders had on their Soldiers’ lives by sending them to their AER office for financial assistance. AER provided $70 million in loans and grants to 40,000 Soldiers and families in 2019. This incredible amount of assistance was possible due to the support of our generous donors. Since our founding in 1942, this organization has relied on the comradery and generosity that exists between our men and women in uniform.”
Army senior leadership also encourages continued support.
“Army Emergency Relief is an invaluable resource to take care of our people while ensuring we will always be prepared to ‘fight to win our nation’s wars,’” states a message by Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston and Army Chief of Staff Gen. James C. McConville on the AER page. “AER plays a critical role in helping members of the Army team facing financial difficulties and unexpected challenges. AER provides our Soldiers a helping hand when they need it most.”
In addition to government civilian employees and Soldiers, retired Army personnel also can donate to the AER campaign. At Fort McCoy, contact Sommers or Janeen Folgers, Financial Readiness Program manager and AER officer, at ACS for more information about donating or assistance. Also visit www.armyemergencyrelief.org to learn more.
Fort McCoy’s motto is to be the “Total Force Training Center.” Located in the heart of the upper Midwest, Fort McCoy is the only U.S. Army installation in Wisconsin.
The installation has provided support and facilities for the field and classroom training of more than 100,000 military personnel from all services nearly every year since 1984.