Bowling for $$: Tournament kicks of Jackson AER campaign

Robert Timmons | Fort Jackson Public Affairs Office | March 7, 2024

Army Emergency Relief has been helping the Army help its own for more than 80 years.

On March 1, Fort Jackson joined the Army in kicking off the annual campaign with a bowling tournament held at Century Lanes.

“Today is a great day for Fort Jackson,” said Maj. Gen. Jason E. Kelly, Fort Jackson commander. “It is a great day for all of our Soldiers and their Families, as we officially open the 2024 AER Campaign. Our AER goal this year is that everyone is informed, 100 percent informed. No one on this post should not know that we’ve kicked this thing off today and there is an AER campaign underway.”

“AER ensures that no Soldier faces financial hardship alone,” Kelly stressed.

“Army Emergency Relief is a nonprofit organization that was established to help Soldiers and their Families in times of financial need,” said Capt. Lashaya Clark, Fort Jackson’s AER campaign coordinator. “The purpose of this campaign is to bring awareness to the AER program and gives Soldiers to opportunity to donate.

Since 1942, AER has provided over $2 billion to nearly 4 million Soldiers, including $1 billion since Sept. 11, 2001 through zero-interest loans, grants and educational scholarships. In 2023 Fort Jackson provided over $935,000 to 534 families during their time of need.

The 2024 AER campaign motto, “Supporting Soldiers since 1942,” reminds everyone of our purpose, Clark said.

“Taking care of Soldiers is what we do,” she said.

There are 37 different categories of assistance AER offers including emergency travel, home repair, special needs medical equipment and child care.

When someone is in financial need “they’ll go someplace outside instead of going to AER,” said retired Lt. Col. Joel J. Levesque, AER chief financial officer. “They will go to a little pawn shop or go to a payday lender. They’ll max out their credit card … but they are not coming to AER first. We want to change that this year … We want to be the No. 1 place you go for financial assistance.”

AER does a lot of assistance. Last year AER provided $67 million in assistance Army-wide with roughly $5.5 million of that in grants, Levesque said. In that time frame, Fort Jackson raised about $180,000.

“Bottom line, AER is good for us,” Kelly said. “They provide more assistance than they brought in previous years.”

To be eligible for AER assistance individuals must be:

  • Soldiers on active duty and their eligible dependents
  • Army Reserve and National Guard Soldiers activated on Title 10 orders for more than 30 days and their eligible dependents
  • Soldiers retired for longevity, medical or upon reaching age 60 (reserve component) and their eligible dependents
  • Surviving spouses who have not remarried and children of Soldiers who died on active duty or died after reaching retirement eligibility

Donors make their pledge online with a one-time recurring donation via credit card, eCheck or PayPal, or by a paycheck allotment through the Defense Finance and Accounting Service.

More on the 2024 AER Annual Campaign.

Retired Lt. Col. Joel J. Levesque, Army Emergency Relief chief financial officer and treasurer, speaks during Fort Jackson’s AER campaign kickoff ceremony, March 1 at Century Lanes on post. He said there are 37 different categories of assistance through AER. ‘We want to be the number one place you go to for financial assistance,’ he said.
Maj. Gen. Jason E. Kelly, post commander, speaks of how AER supports Fort Jackson at the event.