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AER events put ‘fun’ in fundraising

Justin O. Mitchell, deputy to the Fort Rucker garrison commander, and Col. Stuart J. McRae, Fort Rucker garrison commander, serve time behind bars in a makeshift jail at the post exchange parking lot during last year’s Jail-A-Thon. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Justin O. Mitchell, deputy to the Fort Rucker garrison commander, and Col. Stuart J. McRae, Fort Rucker garrison commander, serve time behind bars in a makeshift jail at the post exchange parking lot during last year’s Jail-A-Thon. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Published: April 17, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (April 17, 2014) -- Soldiers helping Soldiers is synonymous with Army Emergency Relief, but the organization’s campaign is looking to make actions speak louder than words with two of its premiere events.

Fort Rucker’s AER is teaming up with Army Aviation Center Federal Credit Union to host the 24th annual AACFCU Golf Tournament April 25, and the 6th Military Police Detachment for the Jail-A-Thon May 1, said Maj. Anthony Whittaker, AER campaign coordinator.

So far, AER has raised almost $60,000 and Whittaker said he’s very confident that the campaign will gain even more traction through these events.

“Last year’s golf tournament raised $15,000 for AER and we raised almost $5,000 from the Jail-A-Thon,” he said. “This year’s goal for the Jail-A-Thon is $6,000 and we feel confident that we’ll hit that mark, and we definitely want to exceed that $15,000 mark from the golf tournament, which I’m very optimistic that we’ll do.”

Each event presents a unique and fun way for people to donate to a charitable cause – one that directly impacts those in the Army community.

The golf tournament will be played in teams of four as a four-person scramble, during which each person on a team will hit a tee shot and select the best shot out of the four. From the best shot is where the rest of the team will hit the next shot from, continuing the process until the ball lands on the green.

“This golf tournament has been a big part of the AER campaign over the years,” said Whittaker. “It’s a great fundraiser for the AER program and this is something that AACFCU puts on every year for us, and it’s a great partnership that we get to work with.”

Cost for the golf tournament is $65 per person for Silver Wings Golf Course non-members, and $55 per person for members.

There will be cash prizes involved for things like closest to the hole on certain holes, and people have the chance to win a new car if they achieve a hole in one on the specified hole.

Whittaker said gifts will also be provided to all participants, and the cost of entry will cover their greens fee, cart fee and lunch.

“I attended last year’s tournament and everyone had a great time,” said the campaign coordinator. “It’s a good way to spend some leisure time playing golf for a good cause.”

The Jail-A-Thon is one of Fort Rucker’s most anticipated events. For a fee, people are able to have their coworkers, bosses, spouses and even commanders arrested and put in “jail” in 30-minute increments, said Whittaker.

A makeshift jail will be set up in front of the post exchange and military police officers will carry out the arrests across the installation. A judge will also be present at the jail site to reside over the arrestees to read their charges and deal out sentencing.

Warrant collections will run up to the day of the arrests, and costs are determined by rank or pay grade of the arrestee. The prices are: $10 for E1-E4 and GS1-GS4; $15 for E5-E6, GS5-GS6, WO1-CW2 and O1-O2; $20 for E7-E9, GS7-GS9, CW3-CW5 and O3-O4; $25 for GS10-GS15; $30 for O5-O7 and post command sergeant major; and $50 for deputy commanding general and commanding general. Spouse arrest is equal to service member’s rank or pay grade.

Whittaker said there is no limit to how long a person can be jailed or how many warrants can be issued for them.

“It’s all up to the people who fill out the warrants how long they want to try and keep whoever they want in jail for the day,” he said. “Last year we had one individual spend three hours in the jail.”

Those who are arrested don’t have to suffer the entire sentence if they are willing to “make bail,” said Whittaker. People can be set free as long as they are able to match the donation amount that they were sent to jail for.

“This is something that goes to a great cause and people have a lot of fun with it,” he said. “It can be startling at first if you’ve never been a part of it and you see the MPs show up to arrest them.”

When MPs show up to arrest someone, they will read the arrest warrants that the arrestees are being charged with. The charges in the past have ranged from drinking too much soda on the job to smiling too much, so people can be arrested for anything, added Whittaker.

These events are designed to help people give to a cause that might be near and dear to their hearts, said the campaign coordinator.

“There are hundreds of charities and causes for people to donate to, but the AER campaign is a campaign for Soldiers,” said Whittaker. “Some of the stories that Soldiers have told about when they were in dire circumstances are really touching. These are real stories of real Soldiers – life stories.

“You never know when a situation may arise where you might need some assistance, and AER helps those Soldiers, Family members and retirees, as well as National Guard and Reservists who are on Title-10 orders,” he continued. “If a situation does arise, we never know when that might happen, and we want them to know that we’re there for them.”

Whittaker said that AER’s goal is to be the Soldier’s first choice, so that they can avoid going to predatory lenders that might get them in deeper trouble rather than help.

“This is not just about collecting money, but about making Soldiers aware,” he said. “We want to assist, not to hurt, so they need to know we’re here to help.”

For more information, call 255-2341.

This article was originally published at http://www.army.mil/article/124278/

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