By U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public AffairsMarch 13, 2012
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- The Army Emergency Relief Campaign, or AER, has kicked off and runs through May 15.
AER is a private, nonprofit organization that provides financial assistance to active duty Soldiers, single or married, and their family members; National Guard and Reserve Soldiers on continuous active duty for more than 30 days, under Title 10, and their family members; retirees and their family members; surviving spouses; and orphans of Soldiers who died while on active duty or after they retired.
The annual fundraiser gives Soldiers a chance to help fellow Soldiers, plus it creates a greater awareness and understanding of AER programs and benefits. This year's theme is "A Strong Tradition of Soldiers Helping Soldiers."
The fundraising goal for Hawaii's AER this year is $285,000, according to Army Community Service; Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare, and Recreation; U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii.
Last year, the Hawaii campaign raised $300,992 and assisted 2,206 Soldiers in Hawaii with no-interest loans totaling $2,515,583 and grants totaling $130,516.
Established in response to ensuring an agency was available that could provide prompt financial assistance for Soldiers and their families during World War II, AER provides emergency financial assistance in the form of no-interest loans or grants.
Also, AER provides scholarships to children and spouses of active duty and retired Soldiers, as well as financial support to widows and wounded warriors.
"The primary objective of the annual campaign is to create a greater awareness of how Army Emergency Relief helps Soldiers and their families," said retired Lt. Gen. Robert Foley, director, AER. "By promoting a better understanding of AER benefits, easy access to AER funds and the flexibility, which AER officers worldwide exercise in responding to requests for financial assistance, Soldiers and families can receive well-deserved care and consideration in a time of need," Foley said.
In 2011, AER provided $77.5 million in assistance to more than 64,000 Soldiers and their families. Under the streamlined Command Referral Program, company commanders and first sergeants have the authority to approve AER loans for their Soldiers up to $1,500.
AER assistance is based upon a valid need and is flexible in responding to all types of financial situations, officials said, adding that AER officers work toward "finding a way to say yes."
No limit is placed on the amount of assistance that can be provided, and no limit is placed on the number of times a Soldier may make requests for assistance.
(Editor's Note: Information compiled from Army news releases and ACS, Schofield Barracks.)
AER Campaign 2012
Now through May 15, unit points of contact will contact Soldiers for voluntary donations. However, making a donation is not a requirement to receiving AER assistance. Donations can be made by allotment, cash or check; all contributions are fully tax deductible. Call Jackie Torres, AER officer, ACS, at 655-4227.
Applications are available through April 2 for academic year 2012-2013. Family members can apply for AER scholarships at www.aerhq.org.