WIESBADEN, Germany – U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden officially launched their 2023 Army Emergency Relief campaign during a kick-off ceremony and cake cutting at the Stronger Together Dining Facility on Clay Kaserne, March 2.
Garrison Commander Col. David Mayfield was on hand to challenge the audience to continue the same giving spirit that made USAG Wiesbaden the top U.S. Army garrison across Europe, during the recent Combined Federal Campaign.
“Thanks for being here, today, as we officially launch the AER campaign here in Wiesbaden,” Mayfield said, opening the event.
The mission of AER is to provide grants, interest-free loans and scholarships to promote readiness and help relieve financial distress of Soldiers and their Families.
AER has been the official non-profit organization of the U.S. Army and has provided more than $2 billion in financial assistance to 4 million Soldiers since 1942.
Last year alone, it provided more than $65 million in assistance to 31,000 Soldiers and families. AER’s Career Skills Programs provided $2.1 million in grants to retiring and separating Soldiers, helping ease their transition into the civilian workforce.
“Soldiers Helping Soldiers is at the heart of the warrior ethos and the motto of AER, since September 11, 2001 AER has provided $1 billion in financial assistance to active and retired Soldiers as well as their families,” said Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army Gen. Randy A. George in a recent AER video.
A commander’s AER thoughts
Most people think of AER when they receive or hear of a teammate receiving a message from the Red Cross and need assistance to get home.
Mayfield related two crises in his career as a Soldier and leader, where he needed help and AER stepped in. In both instances, AER provided much-needed logistics support in connecting Mayfield with his family, without hesitation.
“Thankfully he pulled through (…) I would never have been able to go home (without AER assistance) myself,” said Mayfield.
AER goes beyond their motto. AER is service to one another, it is self-sacrifice and it volunteerism, it is Soldiers helping a larger and greater community that includes families, veterans and retirees.
Impact broader than realized
AER can help you or a buddy get home following a crisis or an emergency, but what is AER really about?
Often times it is only during an emergency or great hardship when those who need help most, will learn about AER as a resource that exists to help alleviate hardship.
From car repairs to unexpected utility expenses or even college funding and scholarships – it is difficult to predict and plan for what circumstances will impact you, your family or your formations – regardless of the issue, AER can provide the assistance for life’s twist and turns.
The most common assistance is for car repair, PCS expenses and/or emergency travel, but there are more than 30 categories of assistance that AER supports to include:
• Basic living expenses
• Career skills program
• Pet transportation, and much more.
“Those seeking assistance have two ways to get help from AER, by using the chain of command or using the direct access approach,” said Brianna Johnson, USAG Wiesbaden’s AER Officer at Army Community Services
Company first sergeants or commanders have the ability to approve financial assistance requests of up to $2000, for their Soldiers. Soldiers that do not want to go through their unit, can speak directly with an AER officer located at the garrison’s ACS office.
“You come in and sit down with me and we talk about your needs, talk about your budget, and whether this will be a no-interest loan or a grant (which is not paid back) or a combination (…) we get you what you need in a few days,” added Johnson.
AER assistance is a hands-up interaction …not a handout, as AER stands committed to helping the U.S. Army build financial resiliency across the force.
“Though neither I, nor any of my Soldiers have used AER, I think it is a really good program for Soldiers if they need loans or assistance,” said Sgt. Andy Tran from the 2nd Military Intelligence Battalion, also in attendance at the kick-off event, and supporting his unit as their AER point person.
This year’s AER campaign runs through May 15.
AER is open to active duty and retired Soldiers and their families, as well as to surviving spouses, and their children.
To donate, see your unit’s AER campaign point person. For information or assistance, see your commander or first sergeant or visit USAG Wiesbaden Army Community Service to speak directly with the Garrison’s AER officer; or visit AERHQ.org.