FORT SILL, Okla. (Aug. 9, 2023)— Fort Sill highlighted its spirit of camaraderie and community as the Army Emergency Relief (AER) claimed the title of AER best large installation award. This distinction marks a significant achievement in Soldier-driven donations.
Due to the unwavering dedication of Soldiers and the community, Fort Sill amassed $107,440 in donations from Active-Duty Soldiers and $161,292 overall. This contribution surpassed many other significant installations in the endeavor to assist fellow Soldiers and their families.
Ken Lewis, AER director, exudes enthusiasm as he speaks of the achievement, "It’s not just about the award; it’s about Soldiers showing they care about each other, boosting morale." This award signifies more than just a win – it embodies the essence of soldiers looking out for one another.
One of the notable strides this year was the introduction of a campaign coordination team (CCT). Lewis points out the distinction between past years and now, "Having the CCT made a difference. We had military manpower that could directly engage with the troops and create awareness about AER's mission."
Lewis also emphasized the importance of a united front, praising the bowling tournament. "Our bowling tournament was a game-changer," he said. "Soldiers love to compete, and when it's for a cause as noble as this, the energy is unmatched." The event, highlighted by the Public Affairs Office (PAO), boosted the visibility and significance of AER's mission.
The donations significantly impact Soldiers' lives. "Just last week, we assisted a Soldier whose AC broke during the scorching 100-degree heat," Lewis recalled. The funds support more than just emergency repairs. "We also aided a Soldier's spouse, providing for rent while the husband was job-hunting," added Lewis.
AER offers its support to active-duty, Guard, Reserve Soldiers on Title 10 orders, and even retirees, including those medically retired. However, for families to benefit, the soldier must initiate the process, ensuring the donations serve their intended purpose.
The flexibility of AER loans is another commendable feature. Depending on the individual's budget, loan repayment can be tailored to the soldier's financial capacity, with durations that work for the Soldier.
Discussing the national recognition's value, Lewis expressed, "It's fantastic! It's not just for us but for the soldiers. This is really a Fort Sill award." The award ceremony is set for Oct. 10 in Washington D. C. at the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) convention.
Looking ahead, the goal remains: sustain the momentum and preserve the ethos of "Soldiers helping Soldiers." Initiatives for next year's campaigns are already underway, with the bowling tournament and CCT teams leading the charge.
In his final remarks, Lewis credited an individual behind their achievements, "None of this would've been possible without Dan Farrell, AER assistant and campaign coordinator. He is the driving force behind our success."
AER's success at Fort Sill illustrates what's attainable when a community unites, setting a global standard for installations. At Fort Sill, "Soldiers helping Soldiers" isn’t merely a slogan; it's a lifestyle, said Lewis.