APG begins local Army Emergency Relief campaign, promotes financial readiness

By Emily MyersMarch 13, 2024

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. – From left to right, Col. Phil Mundweil, APG Garrison commander, Private 1st Class, Jonathan Sierra, a SATCOM systems operator, 20th CBRNE Command, and Command Sgt. Maj. Paul Denson, APG Garrison command sergeant major, cut a ceremonial cake during the APG Army Emergency Relief Campaign kickoff at Brewner Lanes, here, March 1, 2024. The campaign was a combination awareness event and bowling tournament designed to promote AER services and financial readiness. (U.S. Army photo by Hannah Miller/Released)
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. – From left to right, Col. Phil Mundweil, APG Garrison commander, Private 1st Class, Jonathan Sierra, a SATCOM systems operator, 20th CBRNE Command, and Command Sgt. Maj. Paul Denson, APG Garrison command sergeant major, cut a ceremonial cake during the APG Army Emergency Relief Campaign kickoff at Brewner Lanes, here, March 1, 2024. The campaign was a combination awareness event and bowling tournament designed to promote AER services and financial readiness. (U.S. Army photo by Hannah Miller/Released) (Photo Credit: Quentin Johnson) VIEW ORIGINAL

Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. – The 2024 Army Emergency Relief campaign kicked off March 1 at Brewner Lanes, beginning the annual effort to draw the APG community together through financial aid and mutual support.

AER is a vital lifeline for soldiers from all backgrounds facing financial hardships.

“As a former company commander, I have had to use AER for my soldiers on multiple occasions,” said Maj. Dominic Adams, PEO IEW&S. “They fell behind on certain payments… and needed help instead of going to a pay day loan situation.”

AER provides zero-interest loans and grants.

Maj. Adams explained, “AER was there to help them through those times and that was amazing for them. They turned themselves around financially and carried on with the mission.”

AER assists soldiers and their families with expenses associated with everything from travel and car maintenance to home repairs and groceries.

HHC Commander, Cpt. Alexander Davie Sr. said, “I used AER to help me get an apartment, so I could ensure a down payment for an apartment because I hadn’t received BAH. I had a problem with my finances and wasn’t receiving BAH. I got an AER loan. to help pay for the first month of BAH until I started receiving pay.”

BAH or Basic Housing Allowance for service members offsets the cost of housing when they do not receive government provided housing. The BAH you receive depends on your location, pay grade and how many dependents you have.

There was a glitch in the system and Cpt. Davie wasn’t paid for about two months. He was living off-post with his wife and two small children at the time. Instead of using savings to pay rent he sought out an AER loan. He paid loan back through pay deduction when the system glitch was fixed.

Cpt. Davie said, “The loan was about $400 to $500. [I] paid the loan back about $60/month. It was a simple and easy process.”

The AER ceremony was an awareness event gathering the community together to learn more and sign up to donate.

U.S. Army Garrison APG Commander, Col. Philip Mundweil, said, “Today is about leaders and friends and family members understanding the resources that are available to assist soldiers and their families in times of need.”

Col. Mundweil used his voice as a call to action.

“The primary focus of this campaign is to fully inform 100% of the active-duty, retired soldiers, family members, survivor spouses, and the children of fallen soldiers about the various types of financial assistance available from AER, as well as provide an opportunity for soldiers to donate.”

He continued to advocate for AER and its benefits over other non-profits and high interest payment options.

“Off installation lenders, such as short-term or pay day loans, offer loans with interest rates as high as 700%. Loans like this can leave service members in a continuous cycle of debt. It can cost them thousands of dollars in interest. However, in the current Army, we understand asking that for help is a sign of strength. It’s not a weakness and it’s imperative we all know how to direct those who do show that sign of strength and ask for help and direct them to where resources exist.”

According to CNBC, “70% of Americans are currently feeling financially stressed.” Lifestyle Inflation is particularly hard on service members.

Col. Mundweil wants everyone to be informed about AER whether they need to utilize the resource or contribute to its continued success.

“I am asking [you all] to go out and help spread the word about AER. Share the links, get the QR codes and push those things out, and share a positive sentiment as well as we try to meet the campaign goal of 10% participation across APG and 100% awareness because there is absolutely a gap in our collective knowledge and understanding of this wonderful program.”

To learn more and help spread the word about AER, visit https://www.armyemergencyrelief.org/campaign/. The 2024 Army Emergency Relief campaign ends on June 14, 2024 - The Army’s 249th birthday.