AER: Providing crucial support to military Families in financial crisis

Sgt. Maj. Sheila Fourman | U.S. Army Materiel Command | April 5, 2024

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – In times of financial distress, the Army Emergency Relief stands as a pillar of support for Soldiers and their Families. Established in 1942, this private, nonprofit organization has been steadfast in its mission to assist military personnel facing unexpected and urgent financial emergencies.

“AER has provided our Soldiers and their Families for more than 80 years,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Sellers, Army Materiel Command’s senior enlisted Soldier. “As a current AER board member, I’ve learned significant information about the methods our Soldiers can help their fellow Soldiers.”

Sellers is a member of AER’s Board of Managers.

The annual campaign runs for three months each year to raise financial awareness among our Soldiers and to provide Soldiers and Department of Defense employees a chance to contribute through donations. With a track record of aiding over 4 million Soldiers and Family members, AER continues to be a vital resource, providing over $2 billion in financial assistance since its inception, including $1 billion since 9/11.

Active-duty Soldiers and their immediate Family members are eligible for AER funds, which cover a wide range of emergency financial needs. From emergency travel to healthcare expenses not covered by TRICARE, AER extends support in various critical areas such as mortgage or rent, temporary lodging, funeral expenses, vehicle costs and more. Notably, AER also offers scholarships to spouses and children of both active and retired Soldiers, further reinforcing its commitment to supporting military Families.

A unique aspect of AER is its decentralized approach to fund distribution. Funds collected by AER are held for Soldiers and their eligible Family members with local commanders granted access for disbursement. This ensures that assistance is tailored to individual needs and approved on a case-by-case basis. Additionally, reciprocal agreements with organizations like American Red Cross and other military aid societies, facilitate access to AER assistance for Soldiers and their Families.

“The key to our success is to have dedicated representatives assigned, who will make sure that 100 percent of the workforce/formation is contacted and aware of the ongoing campaign,” said Sellers. “In other words, kindly educate and inform how we can help AER continue assisting Soldiers and their Families in a time of need.”

Recognizing the urgency of certain situations, AER has streamlined processes to expedite assistance. Soldiers meeting specific criteria can directly approach AER offices without going through the chain of command, ensuring swift support. Moreover, the Quick Assist Program enables quick approval for no-interest loans up to $2,000, empowering Soldiers to address financial challenges promptly.

Additionally, AER’s secondary mission provides financial assistance in the form of scholarships to spouses and dependent children who are pursuing their undergraduate degree. These AER programs for dependent children education include the MG James Ursano Scholarship Program and The Mrs. Patty Shinseki Spouse Scholarship Program.

Most importantly, AER’s operations are sustained through voluntary contributions from active and retired Soldiers, loan repayments and investments. As a non-governmental entity, AER operates independently, allowing for flexible and efficient distribution of funds without external directives.

In times of crisis, the AER continues to be a pillar of support for Soldiers and their Families, embodying the Army ethos. With its unwavering commitment to providing financial assistance and scholarships, AER remains an indispensable resource, ensuring that no Soldier faces financial hardship alone.

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More on the 2024 AER Annual Campaign.