2017 Army Emergency Relief – 43,000+ requests = $69.7 million
2017 Army Emergency Relief – 43,000+ requests = $69.7 million
Greetings from the Association of the United States Army (AUSA), our Army’s association for education and professional development, and a major supporter of the Army’s Soldier for Life efforts.
From March 1 through May 15, the Army will conduct its annual Army Emergency Relief (AER) fund campaign.
Did you know AER supported over 43,000 requests for assistance in 2017 with a total value of $69.7 million? Wow!
Did you know AER approves 99 percent of all financial assistance requests while most of the remaining 1 percent is unauthorized based on Army regulation?
Did you know all loans from AER are interest free, and 10 percent of the assistance provided in 2017 was in the form of grants, meaning you do not have to repay the money?
Did you know 50 percent of our soldiers serving today have used predatory lending services at least once in their careers, paying 300 percent to 500 percent annual percentage rates?
AER should be a soldier’s first choice for financial help – not these predatory lenders.
Unchanged for the last seven decades, AER’s mission is to help relieve financial distress on soldiers and their families, which is directly tied to the readiness of the force.
This year AER celebrates its 76th anniversary dating back to its establishment on Feb. 5, 1942, by Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson and Army Chief of Staff Gen. George C. Marshall.
AER is incorporated as a 501(c) (3), private nonprofit organization (thereby allowing the accepting of donations) with the primary mission of providing financial assistance to soldiers, active and retired, medically retired, surviving spouses, orphans and their families.
AER’s motto is “Soldiers Helping Soldiers” and its focus is “Helping the Army Take Care of its Own.”
The goal of this year’s campaign is to “Inform 100 percent of our soldiers” about AER’s programs and benefits and also offer soldiers the opportunity to join the legacy of “Soldiers Helping Soldiers” through an appropriate donation to AER.
Since 1942, “Soldiers Helping Soldiers” has provided more than $1.8 billion in assistance to 3.7 million members of the Army Team; $1 billion of that assistance has been provided since 9/11.
On average, AER annually provides more than $61 million in financial help to over 40,000 soldiers and their families.
AER operates under the authority of Army Regulation 930-4, with the partnership of the garrison command team and the Army Community Service (ACS) at 74 locations on Army bases worldwide.
Today, with more than 180,000 soldiers currently deployed or forward stationed in 140 countries, soldiers and their families face a complex financial environment.
Spouses often find themselves serving as a single parent, taking on the role of mother and father. Additionally, numerous deployments and short dwell periods, along with intense training while at home station, combine to create stress on our Army families.
AER can help relieve the financial component of that stress.
The Army chief of staff, Gen. Mark A. Milley, reminds us of our three strategic priorities: readiness, the future Army and taking care of the troops.
AER is aligned with General Milley’s focus and the strategic priorities of readiness and taking care of the troops.
Commanders must ensure their soldiers are focused on their combat mission and, while life happens, financial challenges can cause distractions and lack of focus on the mission.
Who is eligible for assistance?
- Regular Army soldiers, single or married, and their eligible dependents.
- Army National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers on continuous active duty (Title 10, USC) for more than 30 consecutive days and their eligible family members.
- Soldiers retired from the regular Army for longevity or physical disability, and their eligible dependents.
- Army National Guard and Army Reserve (USAR) soldiers who retired and are receiving Defense Finance and Accounting System (DFAS)-issued retired pay and their eligible family members.
- Surviving spouses and orphans of soldiers who died while on active duty or after they retired.
Why do Army National Guard (ARNG) and Army Reserve soldiers have to be in Title 10 status for more than 30 consecutive days to qualify for AER assistance?
Loans through AER are repaid by the soldier using a military allotment through the Defense Finance and Accounting System; Army National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers do not currently have access to the DFAS allotment system.
However, with the fielding of the new Integrated Personnel and Pay System – Army in the 2019-2020 timeframe (IPPS-A, an online human resources system integrating personnel, pay and talent management capabilities in a single system) ARNG and USAR soldiers will be able to execute allotments for the repayment of AER loans.
Additionally, ARNG and USAR soldiers will be able to donate to AER through the IPSS-A allotment system.
In the meantime, AER continues to fully support ARNG and USAR soldiers on Title 10 status.
Additionally, this past year during the wildfires and hurricanes, AER waived the Title 10 requirement and provided over $3 million in assistance (nearly all of that amount in the form of grants) to Title 32 soldiers affected by these natural disasters and, on a case by case basis, to non-mobilized ARNG and USAR soldiers.
How can AER help me?
- Emergency Travel
- Travel Fund for Relocation (PCS)
- Funeral Expenses
- Vehicle Repair
- Replacement Vehicle
- Cranial Helmets
- Essential Furniture
- Car Seats
- Repair/Replacement for Basic Appliances
- Minor Home Repairs
How can I get assistance through AER?
- Company commanders or first sergeant can approve AER loans up to $2,000 to assist soldiers with their financial needs.
- All soldiers, regardless of rank, are allowed direct access to AER without a unit commander’s review or approval/concurrence with the following conditions:
- Soldiers in the grades of E-1 through E-4 in Initial Entry Training (IET) are not eligible for direct access
- Soldiers with less than 12-months in service are not eligible for direct access
- Regardless of rank, direct access assistance will be limited to two requests (loan or grant) within a 12-month period
- Soldiers who exhibit high risk behaviors for financial problems in accordance with Army Regulation 600-85 are not eligible for Direct Access
- If soldiers fall under any of these conditions, they may still receive AER assistance by going through their company chain of command first
Access to AER can also be made through the Air Force, Navy/Marine Corps and Coast Guard Military Aid Societies located around the world.
Most importantly, if you cannot easily gain access to a military base or one of the military aid societies listed above, you can always get help through American Red Cross Emergency Communication Centers anywhere in the world, anytime. For 24/7 operations, call 1-(877) 272-7337.
What does the soldier need to bring or have available for AER?
- Valid military identification card
- Leave and Earnings Statement (LES)
- Leave and/or permanent change of station (PCS) orders
- Substantiating documents like a car repair estimate, rental agreement, utility bill, etc.
Can my spouse get help with AER while I am away or deployed? Yes, a spouse must bring the following items to the AER office:
- Special power of attorney (specifically for financial matters and initiating an allotment to repay an AER loan)
- Valid military dependent identification card
- Substantiating documents
So, as leaders we should ask ourselves: “Do we want our soldiers and their families seeking an interest-free loan or grant from AER, or to go to a payday lender?”
Statistic and survey data reflect that soldiers all too frequently go to pawn shops, car title loans, rent to own, pay day loans and now in the tax season, tax refund advances for their financial needs.
Depending on the soldier’s credit rating, the amount of money needed and the risk to the lending institution, some of these “other” loans are many times as high 300 percent to 500 percent interest rate.
However, these surveys also strongly indicate that there is a degree of apprehension for soldiers to use AER since they may be viewed negatively by their chain of command.
To break this stigma associated with using AER and helping soldiers and their families understand this very important benefit, the chain of command must take the lead and be involved.
Leaders at all levels must establish an environment of trust and confidence where soldiers are fully comfortable coming to their chain of command to ask for help, financial or otherwise.
The start of this year’s AER campaign provides us with the opportunity to educate and inform every member of the Army Team – leaders, supervisors, soldiers and their families – about AER.
The goal is 100 percent of the force educated and informed about AER, and provided the opportunity to follow in the legacy of the generations of soldiers who have helped their fellow teammates.
“Leave No Comrade Behind” is as important on the battlefield as it is back at home station.
This year we say happy 76th anniversary to our AER team for all they have done and continue to do for our soldiers and families.
See your AER unit representative to learn more about AER and visit the website at www.aerhq.org.
Now more than ever America’s Army needs AUSA, and AUSA needs your membership support.
Membership is the volume knob to ensure your voice is amplified many times over and heard throughout the halls of Congress, from sea to shining sea across this country, and throughout every small town and community in-between.
Keep America’s Army Strong! Take a Stand!
Still Serving, Still Saluting!