The Army Emergency Relief Campaign for 2024 was inaugurated Friday, marking the commencement of an annual effort that draws the military community closer through financial aid and mutual support.

In a ceremony that brought together Soldiers from various ranks, the underlying message was clear — AER is a crucial lifeline for those in the Army facing financial hardships.

“It helps Soldiers and their families when they may be financially tight,” said Command Sgt. Maj. John P. McDwyer, III Armored Corps senior enlisted advisor. “The result is the families are taken care of, and then we can get after training the Soldiers to do our nation’s missions.”

Highlighting the ethos of “Soldiers helping Soldiers,” the campaign serves as a call to action for members of the Army to contribute to this vital cause. Testimonials from beneficiaries of AER’s support were shared during the event, which underscored the tangible impact of the program on Soldiers’ lives and their families.

Sgt. 1st Class Walter Florence shared how AER came to his aid during a challenging time when he was diagnosed with cancer.

An unfortunate mistake with his vehicle led to a costly repair, but AER’s compassionate response and quick assistance left a lasting impression on him.

“The AER program is more than just about money … It’s also the people that are in the AER program … They made me feel not only welcome but the problem was solved before the check was ever handed over simply because of how they treated you,” Florence recounted.

Similarly, Sgt. Matthew Stevens spoke of how AER’s assistance was a beacon of hope when his wife faced a medical emergency, demonstrating the program’s flexibility and understanding in converting part of the assistance into a grant.

“We were very grateful for the program itself and being able to share this with U.S. Soldiers,” Stevens explained, reflecting the gratitude felt by many whom AER has supported.

In an inspiring call to generosity, Command Sgt. Maj. Calvin Hall, U.S. Army Garrison-Fort Cavazos command sergeant major, urged attendees to contribute just $1 to the campaign, selecting the small amount to highlight the ease in which Soldiers can support one another, and contrasting it with the daily expenditures on luxuries like coffee.

“I’m challenging everybody here to today to contribute,” Hall said. “As you heard from those testimonies, what those funds are used for — to take care of our Soldiers.”

Hall conveyed that the 2024 AER Campaign is more than a fundraiser; it’s a reaffirmation of the Army’s commitment to its own, a pledge of solidarity that ensures no Soldier is left behind in times of need.

Fort Cavazos leaders hope that the power of shared stories and the collective action AER campaign fortify the bonds within the Army community and ensure every Soldier knows they have a support network ready to help them face any challenge.

More on the 2024 AER Annual Campaign.