CAMP ZAMA, Japan – Camp Zama officials hope to see continued participation in this year’s Army Emergency Relief campaign after contributions more than doubled in 2022 compared to the previous year.
On Wednesday, AER will launch its annual campaign, which runs through May 15, to solicit voluntary donations and highlight what it can offer.
“It’s important to get the word out to all the service members,” said Brad Morgan, the AER officer at Camp Zama’s Army Community Service. “We want service members to know the services we can provide to them rather than them taking out a high-interest loan.”
The nonprofit organization helps active-duty and retired Soldiers as well as eligible dependents in financial need with zero-interest loans and grants for various emergency situations. Some include car and home repairs, medical payments, funeral expenses and emergency travel.
Last year, Camp Zama community members donated more than $5,000 to AER, more than twice the amount collected in 2021. U.S. Army Medical Department Activity–Japan garnered the largest amount of donations.
The ACS here also provided more than $55,000 in AER grants and loans to 26 recipients last year, nearly $20,000 more than the previous year, Morgan said.
AER is run by donations and does not receive federal funding. Since 1942, the program has supported 4 million Soldiers with almost $2 billion in financial assistance, according to its website.
At Camp Zama, many of the AER cases help people return to the U.S. by covering much of their travel expenses when a loved one becomes sick or dies.
Morgan also noted that $2,000 grants are available to cover expenses for Soldiers who participate in the Army Career Skills Program as they prepare to transition to civilian employment.
AER has committed $3 million in grants to support the program, which allows Soldiers to take part in various apprenticeships, internships and other skills development and civilian training programs during their last 180 days of service, its website said.
A handful of Camp Zama Soldiers in the program were able to receive a grant this past year, Morgan said.
“It’s a really good program,” he said, adding that the grants can cover travel costs, work attire and supplies, and even a deposit on a rental property.
Donations for the AER campaign can be made through a unit AER coordinator, ACS, Exchange stores or online at www.ArmyEmergencyRelief.org. For more information, contact Morgan at 263-4455.