Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall's Army Emergency Relief Campaign kicks off from 10-10:35 a.m. Feb. 26 at the joint base community center. An observance of Military Saves Week follows the AER kick-off from 10:35 a.m. to 1 p.m. with Army Community Service staffers and military financial institution representatives on hand to answer questions about budgeting, savings accounts and other tools that can help ensure financial independence for servicemembers and their Families.

Trina Reliford, JBM-HH AER program manager, said the Army Emergency Relief Fund was created "to help Soldiers take care of their own." It does this, she explained, by providing loans, grants or a combination of the two, to Soldiers facing economic hardship. AER funds can help with rent, vehicle repair or emergency travel expenses, with referrals for assistance handled on a case-by-case basis.

The guest speaker for the JBM-HH AER kick off is retired Army Lt. Gen. Robert Foley, director of AER Headquarters in Alexandria. Foley is a former Military District of Washington commander and a Medal of Honor recipient for actions he undertook while serving in Vietnam.

"The annual campaign allows commanders the opportunity to reinforce a greater awareness of how Army Emergency Relief helps Soldiers and their Families," Foley said in an AER Headquarters press release. "By promoting a better understanding of AER benefits as well as an appreciation for the flexibility AER officers possess in responding to requests for financial assistance, Soldiers and Families can be provided the help they need."

According to AER headquarters, $76.8 million in assistance was distributed to more than 59,000 Soldiers and their Families in 2012. Thirty-eight percent of that assistance was obtained through the command referral program which gives company commanders and first sergeants the authority to approve up to $1,500 in interest-free loans for their Soldiers.

Army Emergency Relief is a private non-profit organization incorporated in 1942 to provide financial assistance to active duty and retired Soldiers and their Families. Since its founding, more than 3.5 million Soldiers and their Families have received more than $1.5 billion in support from Army Emergency Relief.

The motto of AER is "Find a way to say yes." There is no limit on the amount of assistance that can be provided and no limit on the number of times a Soldier may make requests for assistance. Loans and grants are all based on need.

For more information on AER and to find out how you can help, call Reliford at 703-696-8435.