By Kerstin Lopez (Fort Carson)March 23, 2011
FORT CARSON, Colo. --Emergencies are inevitable and can bring a financial burden to an already stressful situation - that's why the Army Emergency Relief was established.
AER is a program designed to assist Soldiers, Family members and retirees when emergencies arise.
Mary Braxton, Financial Readiness Program manager, said AER is for any unforeseen emergency such as initial rent and deposit, utilities to prevent disconnect, food assistance, emergency travel for immediate Family members and funeral expenses.
Since February 1942, AER has distributed more than $1.2 billion in financial assistance.
AER's annual fundraising campaign for 2011 runs March 1 through May 15. Last year's goal for Fort Carson's AER fundraising campaign was $225,000 for Soldiers and military Families - $212,000 was raised, said Terri Hein, AER assistant loan officer.
Braxton said the financial goal for 2011 is $250,000. Each year the financial need within the military community increases.
Fort Carson's AER section disbursed $149,867 in grant assistance and $1,439,956 in loan assistance, for a total of $1,589,823 dispersed to Fort Carson Soldiers and their Family members last year.
Financial relief can be given by loans or grants on a case-by-case basis, Hein said.
"Grants are given when there is no way, no means, no how for repayment," Braxton said. "And loans are provided at zero percent interest."
"These are Soldiers' dollars ... our main goal is to manage and provide those dollars upon request at the best of our ability," Braxton said.
Hein said the program is beneficial to the military community because it helps alleviate the financial hardships that Soldiers and Families face on a continual basis.
"If a Soldier knows that they have someone or somewhere to turn if they are facing a financial emergency, then they are more apt to be focused on their mission," Braxton said.
Braxton said contributions can be given by cash, check or allotment, the minimum amount for donation is $1 and anything that someone wants to contribute is most welcome.
"It's a very valid and valuable program and we do ask that each Soldier consider contributing to
this campaign," Braxton said.
Contact Army Community Service at 526-4590 or visit http://www.aerhq.org for more information about the AER program or to contribute.