PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. – In the nearly 20 years since Sept. 11, 2001, Army Emergency Relief (AER) has provided more than $1 billion in assistance to U.S. Army soldiers and their families. During a year of economic fluctuation and uncertainty, AER was critical in maintaining troop welfare and readiness across the globe and here at the Presidio of Monterey.
AER established new relief programs designed specifically to address challenges related to the Covid-19 pandemic and provided financial support to help service members navigate the unexpected costs of childcare, remote education, PCS moves and other critical financial needs caused by the pandemic.
Since Jan. 10, 2020, PoM AER Officer Bobby Kim has managed the distribution of $127,781 in total assistance spanning 85 cases that included Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps service members and their families.
“Financial stability ensures the students here are able to focus on learning their language during their time here, and not stressing about financial hardships or unexpected challenges. AER provides that helping hand when our service members need it most,” Kim said.
Pfc. Joshua Ford is a Chinese-Mandarin language student here at the Presidio who was faced with an unexpected tragedy during the summer of 2020. He was in class when he received a call from his mother at home in Bryan-College Station, Texas. She informed Ford that his father had passed away unexpectedly.
“I was shocked and didn’t really know what to do. All I knew was that I needed to get home to be with my mother and attend his services no matter what. I just didn’t know how I would get there yet,” Ford said.
Ford immediately informed his drill sergeant, Staff Sgt. Angela Jackson, about his father’s unexpected passing. Jackson then referred Ford to Bobby Kim with AER.
“This all transpired over the course of a weekend. But Mr. Kim was so personable and willing to help me during a very challenging time. I am so grateful for him. He really went above and beyond to ensure that my family was covered for our trip back to Texas,” Ford said.
Attending the funeral services was an eye-opening experience for Ford, not previously realizing the impact his father had on his friends and family from across the country.
“People came from all over the country who had not seen him since college. I had no idea he had such a wide network of friends and people who loved him. This made me realize that the relationships we build now are so meaningful. Our friends we have right now are with us for life, and now I can see that.”
For 79 years, Army Emergency Relief (AER) has been the conduit through which Soldiers provide financial support to their brothers and sisters in arms. Since 1942, AER has supported two million Soldiers with nearly $4 billion in financial assistance.
“AER relies on donations to exist. Donating to AER is about supporting the warrior ethos of leaving no soldier behind,” Kim said. “One soldier may not think a small donation on their part goes a long way, but it does when combined with soldiers from across the Army who also make small donations.”
The spring of 2021 marks another milestone and a fresh opportunity to showcase the best of the ideals of selfless service and teamwork that is the foundation of America’s military: the launch of the Army’s annual campaign on behalf of AER.
For more information about seeking support from AER, or donating to AER, contact Bobby Kim or visit the Army Emergency Relief Fund homepage for more information.
“Ultimately, we want all of our service members here to know this benefit exists for them, and to encourage them to visit me or talk to their chain of command about AER so we can devise a plan to support them in the best way possible. We are here to help,” Kim said.