AER raising money to help Soldiers, Families in need

Army Emergency Relief funds have helped Soldiers and Families through financial hardships since 1942, distributing approximately $2 billion in zero-interest loans and grants to Soldiers in need.

This year’s annual AER fundraising campaign was officially announced at Fort Campbell during a kickoff ceremony hosted Feb. 14 at the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) headquarters. This year’s contribution opportunity for Soldiers and civilians will be open March 1 through May 15.

“As a former battalion commander and brigade commander, I’ve seen firsthand the immediate impact that AER can have on service members and their Families,” said Col. Jared Bordwell, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) chief of staff. “They can help during emergencies related to travel, health care, funeral expenses, mortgages, temporary vouchers and even something as simple as food.”

Bordwell said the organization also further supports the Army’s People First Strategy by providing undergraduate scholarships to military spouses and children.

“This organization truly espouses the virtues of duty, honor and comfort,” he said. “Yet they’re the silent professionals who do not ask for recognition or accolades. Simply put, [what] they do is make service members’ lives better during times of strife.”

The installation’s AER program disbursed a combined $3.2 million in loans and grants throughout 2022, providing a safe alternative to financial scams targeting Soldiers outside the gates.

“There are countless payday loans, there are Cash App frauds and there are a lot of things in this modern era that Soldiers are more likely to turn to than to reach out to their leadership for a hand in help,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Chad E.W. Stackpole, garrison senior enlisted leader.

Stackpole said AER provides more than 30 programs to assist Soldiers and Families, and the challenge is continuing to raise awareness so the community members can take advantage of those services.

“Many junior leaders aren’t aware of what’s out there at their disposal to assist Soldiers who are facing hardships,” he said. “From a leadership perspective, from brigade level to team leader, knowing what programs are available to assist Soldiers is essential.”

Boosting AER’s visibility may also encourage Soldiers to donate.

“I’d like to see us increase our percentages, mostly just the total number of people who contribute. The monetary piece will come with the more people who choose to volunteer, based on being educated about this great program.”

Bordwell said the best way for Soldiers to promote AER within their formations is to set an example, and he encouraged those who attended the campaign kickoff to lead the way.

“My challenge to the entire installation is simple: lead through demonstrated action,” Bordwell said. “Place the same amount of emphasis on this campaign as you place on your duties as a Soldier and leader preparing for combat. The 101st has historically led our Army in so many different categories, and this is one more opportunity to add AER to the list of what Fort Campbell represents.”

In addition to the more than $50 million in financial assistance that AER provides annually to more than 45,000 Soldiers Army-wide, AER also provides $10 million in educational scholarships for military Spouses and children each year.

For more on the AER Annual Campaign, go to

Command Sgt. Maj. Chad E.W. Stackpole, garrison senior enlisted leader, delivers remarks Feb. 14 at 101st Airborne Division headquarters during the 2023 Army Emergency Relief, or AER, campaign kickoff. Stackpole said AER’s mission of financially assisting Soldiers is especially important because of the number of predatory loans and scams targeting the military community. (Photo by Ethan Steinquest)