2014-02-21 / Front Page

Fort Gordon to kick off 2014 AER campaign

By Bonnie Heater
Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office

Fort Gordon’s 2014 Army Emergency Relief campaign kicks off Feb. 27 at 1:30 p.m. with an opening ceremony at Alexander Hall. Retired Army Col. Guy Shields, chief of Communications and public affairs for Headquarters, Army Emergency Relief, will be the guest speaker. This year’s theme is Army Emergency Relief – A Soldier’s First Choice.

The purpose of the campaign is to create a greater awareness of the benefits of selecting AER to resolve short term financial difficulties (rather than high-interest options) as well as to provide the opportunity for Soldiers to help one another. It is a private nonprofit organization incorporated in 1942 by the secretary of the Army and the Army chief of staff. AER’s only mission is to help Soldiers - active duty and retired - and their families.

Last year AER provided $74 million in assistance to 53,000 Soldiers and their families, according to Guy Shields. Here at Fort Gordon, over $772,000 in loans and grants were provided to nearly 700 Soldiers and their families last year.

“Since 9/11, almost $800 million has been distributed to Soldiers and their families in the form of interest free loans, grants and scholarships to children and spouses of active duty and retired Soldiers,” said

AER’s director, retired

Army Lt. Gen. Robert

Foley in a recent news release. “In the last four years nine new categories of assistance have been added to include dependent dental care, replacement vehicles, heating, ventilation and air conditioning and appliance repair, rental vehicles, relocation travel, cranial helmet, and infant car seats.”

This year there have been a few changes in the AER program. All officers, warrant officers and non-commissioned officers in the rank of sergeant and above are authorized to submit requests for Army Emergency Relief financial assistance directly through their installation AER office. The new policy, allowing sergeants and above, direct access to assistance is based upon the great job our non-commissioned officers have done over the decade leading our Soldiers in combat, according to Shields.

The program is also placing more emphasis on connecting with spouses this year. Spouses make daily family financial decisions, especially when their Soldiers are deployed. AER will be tailoring its presentations and making them available to family readiness group representatives and spouses during the campaign.

“The campaign will run through May 15 and we are hoping to raise about $130.000,” said Jolane Williams, assistant AER officer and AER specialist with the Fort Gordon Army Community Service office.

Anyone can donate to AER, including organizations and businesses. Unit Project Officers in each unit will be providing all Soldiers with the opportunity to support AER. Donations can be made either by check, cash, or allotment (from active duty Army and retired Army pay). National Guard and Reserve Soldiers can also contribute by check or cash, as they can receive AER assistance while they are on active duty. Credit card donations can also be set up online through the AER website.

Soldiers needing AER financial assistance can either contact their unit chain of command or go directly to the Fort Gordon AER office. Soldiers and their families who are not near an Army installation can also receive AER assistance at the nearest Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps or Coast Guard installation due to the reciprocal agreements in place with the other military aid societies. The American Red Cross call center can also be contacted by calling (877) 272-7337.

Contact Jolane Williams at 791-8685 for more information about the AER program, or drop by the AER office in Room 172 in Darling Hall or visit www.aerhq.org.

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