Fort Carson, Colo. — The Army Emergency Relief (AER) campaign runs until May 15, 2023.
AER is a financial assistance program available to Soldiers, Family members and retirees in the form of interest free loans, grants and scholarships.
“AER is about Soldiers taking care of Soldiers. Life happens to everyone. With those donations, we’re able to do what we have been doing for the past 81 years,” said Fred Lewis, Fort Carson AER officer.
The top five categories of assistance for AER at Fort Carson in 2022 were housing at $604,602, privately owned vehicle at $340,171, emergency travel at $151,644, Career Skill Program at $65,131, and utilities at $45,757.
For 2023, AER is looking at a goal of 23% participation across the Army and Fort Carson. As of May 4, 2023, the participation rate at Fort Carson was at 1.1%.
Soldiers can help other Soldiers who may be struggling by donating to AER online at https://give.armyemergencyrelief.org/FTCARSON or by contacting their battalion key worker or campaign coordinator.
In 2022, Soldiers on Fort Carson donated just over $80,000 in assistance to fellow Soldiers and AER provided $261,239 in grants locally. Over $1.5 million in interest-free loans were also distributed in 2022 at Fort Carson.
“We encourage our Soldiers to come and talk to us. We encourage them to make AER their first choice when they find themselves in a financial situation,” said Lewis.
AER has provided interest free loans since 1942, helping Soldiers and Family members who need it the most.
“Not only do we assist with an interest free loan, but … what’s critical is we provide education,” said Lewis. “You must think about most Soldiers coming into the military, especially our lower enlisted, never had a class in finances in high school.”
This education can be vital to Soldiers who may not know this service is available to them in financial situations.
“One of the bedrock foundations of AER is asking for help is a sign of strength. That is easy to say, but it’s hard in practice,” said retired Lt. Gen. Raymond Mason, director of AER. “In the Army, you’re taught you can make it, you can do more than you ever imagined. All those things are true, but life happens. Life throws you some curves.”
Lewis said one myth people tend to believe is that there is an interest on the loan.
“It’s a zero-interest loan. Most people when they see a zero-interest loan sign think it’s a scam but that’s not what this is,” he said.