Fort Leonard Wood kicks off its 2024 AER fundraising campaign

Brian Hill | Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office | March 14, 2024

Fort Leonard Wood kicked off its 2024 Army Emergency Relief donation campaign during a meeting of senior leaders March 4 in the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence headquarters building.

As the U.S. Army’s official nonprofit, AER provides grants, interest-free loans and scholarships to promote readiness and help relieve any financial distress of Soldiers and their Families.

Fort Leonard Wood AER Officer Chuck Matthews said this year’s goal is to have 70 percent of Soldiers donate to AER — with a total combined monetary goal of $250,000 from Soldiers, civilians and retirees in the community — between now and June 14, when the campaign concludes.

In 2023, Matthews noted 66 percent of Fort Leonard Wood Soldiers donated during the AER campaign, which helped the installation clinch first place across the Army.

“Having the goal of 70 percent this year is attainable,” Matthews said, “as that is only 250 more donations than last year.”

Assisting with this year’s campaign are volunteer coordinators Capt. Colton Bull and Staff Sgt. Kim Hooper, who will visit each of Fort Leonard Wood’s basic combat training and advanced individual training units, Matthews said. Each battalion will also have a representative to brief and gather donations from cadre and permanent party Soldiers, and an AER representative will be on hand at newcomers’ briefings.

Bull said he is excited to be at the center of coordinating this year’s campaign.

“It is a program for Soldiers, by Soldiers,” he said. “All proceeds are paid forward to service members and their families. It is about giving assistance to those that fall into financial hardship. The program is primarily funded through donations, which is why this annual campaign’s success is vital.”

As an added incentive to be the most generous units, Matthews said AER streamers will be awarded at the end of this year’s campaign, and the three training brigades are also in competition for most total donation amount and rate.

Matthews said eligibility to receive AER assistance includes active-duty service members and their Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System dependents; National Guard and Reserve service members serving under Title 10 orders, along with their DEERS dependents; military retirees and their DEERS dependents; medically retired service members; and surviving spouses and children. He noted in 2023, AER assisted more than 600 Fort Leonard Wood Soldiers, and an additional 45 spouses and children received educational scholarships.

The program provides financial assistance for needs, including rent or mortgage, utilities payments, basic furniture, appliance repair or replacement, travel expenses for convalescent leave and permanent changes of station, car repairs and insurance, dependent dental care, minor home repairs and funeral expenses.

“There are many categories of assistance under the Army Emergency Relief program that are not commonly known to many in our Army family — AER covers more than 30 different categories of assistance,” Matthews said.

Call 573.596.2595 or 0212 to make an AER donation. To request AER assistance, call 573.596.3154.

More on the 2024 AER Annual Campaign.

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