Published: April 29, 2016
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (April 29, 2016) -- With a few weeks still remaining in the fundraising campaign, the Fort Rucker community has contributed more than $90,000 to Army Emergency Relief, committing to “Never Leave a Soldier in Need.”
According to Capt. Matthew Leitch, AER campaign coordinator, the donations are a direct reflection of Soldiers helping Soldiers.
“There are so many other ways that Soldiers can secure funds when they encounter hardship, but only AER is a program for Soldiers, by Soldiers,” he said. “It doesn’t seek to make a profit or to benefit from a Soldier’s hardships, but rather to keep the Army team strong through mutual assistance.”
As of April 25, AER donations totaled $96,085.50.
According to Beth Gunter, AER financial counselor, AER donations help alleviate a wide range of stressful financial situations Soldiers may encounter.
“The traditional categories of assistance are emergency travel, rent, utilities, essential privately owned vehicle repairs, funeral expenses, food and gas,” she said. “The categories of assistance have expanded to also cover advanced travel funds, if there is a delay in receipt of advance pay or dislocation allowance; minor home repairs, to include repair of the heating and cooling system; purchase or repair of stoves, refrigerator, washer and dryer when establishing a new household or to repair if required; and essential furniture when establishing a new household. Providing a no-interest loan to assist in these areas can assist Soldiers and their families from further financial hardship.”
Army Emergency Relief is a non-profit 501(c). All funds go to an overall AER account.
Last year, $270,265 was provided in assistance to Fort Rucker Soldiers, retirees and their family members. In addition, Fort Rucker family members received $130,650 in AER college scholarships. During the 2015 AER annual campaign, Fort Rucker contributed $126,072.
“The importance of AER is also seen by the community, which is evident by the support we have received from the golf tournament Army Aviation Center Federal Credit Union has hosted for the past 26 years with funds raised going to the Army Emergency Relief campaign,” Gunter said. “With the support of the sponsors involved in the tournament, AACFCU presented $15,000 to last year’s Fort Rucker annual AER campaign.
“It is unrealistic to believe financial burdens do not occur,” Gunter said. “Army Emergency Relief provides a venue by which Soldiers, their family members, retirees, surviving spouses and orphans can achieve recovery from such an event without having to turn to lenders who charge astronomical interest rates which typically escalates the financial issue.”
According to Gunter, AER has provided more than $1.7 billion in interest-free loans and grants to more than 3.6 million active-duty, National Guard and Reserve Soldiers since its inception after World War II.
In 2015, more than $138,000 was raised throughout the campaign season and nearly 200 Soldiers received assistance of over $270,000 from the Fort Rucker AER office to assist with food, housing, utilities, vehicle expenses and repairs, emergency travel, funeral expenses and certain medical expenses, according to Gunter. In addition, more than $420,000 in assistance was provided in the form of loans and grants, and 79 spouses and dependent children received $150,400 in college scholarship assistance.
An AER closing ceremony will be held June 6 from 2-3 p.m. at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum.
For more information, call 255-2341 or visit www.aerhq.org.
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