HOHENFELS, Germany -- The Army Emergency Relief campaign got under way here this year with its theme of "A Strong Tradition of Soldiers helping Soldiers" harking back to its formation during World War II.

"AER is a non-profit organization that has existed since 1942 and helps the army take care of its own," said Lt. Col. John J. Strange Jr., U.S. Army Garrison Hohenfels commander. "Funds raised are used to financially help soldiers in need. 89 cents of every dollar contributed is used to help Soldiers through loans and grants."

"The primary reason for conducting an annual campaign is to provide every opportunity for Soldiers to give to their fellow Soldiers," said Donna Gotel, AER Officer for Hohenfels community.

Strange said that last year more than 66,000 Soldiers in Europe alone benefitted from AER financial assistance, with over $77 million worth of aid being distributed throughout the Army.

"Here at USAG Hohenfels, over $120,000 of financial assistance was provided to local community members," he added.

Strange has set a contribution goal of $100,000 for the garrison, which is more than double what the campaign achieved in 2011. Strange praised the generosity of the community, demonstrated through the over 600 volunteers who have logged hours this year, as well as multiple awards for participation in the Combined Federal Campaign.

"We've got a lot of people who donate their own personal time and a large percentage of our population who have donated already in terms of CFC," Strange said. "I'm asking you to consider another opportunity -- a unique niche need and source of funds for our Soldiers."

AER funds can be used to help active duty Soldiers and their families, surviving spouses and orphans of Soldiers, and even some retirees. Assistance can range from helping with funeral expenses, emergency travel, medical expenses, or disaster relief.

"What I'm painting a picture of is Soldiers who encounter unexpected adverse circumstances and are not prepared financially … and they need that assistance. AER alleviates their financial need s and helps them in these instances of increased family stress," said Strange.

To donate, contact your unit AER representative.