FORT NOVOSEL, Ala. — When it comes to finances, times are hard for many Americans. Budgets are often being stretch thin due to rising prices and inflation. One nonprofit organization, Army Emergency Relief, has worked diligently for decades to provide for Soldiers and their Families facing financial distress.

Jo Close, Fort Novosel AER officer, said the organization covers a multitude of needs for a specific reason.

“AER assists by providing loans, grants or a combination there of.” Close said. “AER exists to make sure the Soldier next to you is focused on their mission, not on their financial problems.”

Regardless of the economic climate, a need for emergency relief has existed Army wide for over 80 years.

“The organization was first established in 1942 by the Secretary of War and the Army chief of staff, to assist the families whose Soldiers were leaving to fight in World War II. Many of these Soldiers had a cut in pay from their civilian income, which left the Families in a financial hardship,” Close said.

Globally, AER has undoubtedly made an impact on the quality of life for Soldiers and their Families. Close said, locally, the organization assisted 121 cases in 2023 alone. Those cases provided more than $207,921 for many different situations.

“Some were Soldiers who just PCSed or recently married that hadn’t started receiving their full benefits, needing assistance with their first month’s rent/security deposit,” Close said. “Others were Soldiers that had DFAS pay issues, because the bills don’t stop just because their pay was interrupted. It was also a crazy year for weather in our little southeast corner of Alabama. We had several Soldiers that own their home needing assistance with minor home repairs due to the storms. “

Beyond emergency assistance, AER also has scholarship opportunities for spouses and dependent children of Soldiers. Last year, Fort Novosel had 30 children and 18 spouses receive $128,450 just in scholarship funds.

The campaign to raise funds for AER begins March 1 nationwide and runs for three months.

“Fort Novosel Army Community Service is challenging each unit to host their own unit level kickoff on March 1st,” said Close.

The Fort Novosel official opening ceremony is on March 8 at 1:30, followed by a battalion-level kickball tournament at the Fort Novosel softball complex across from the Main Post Gym.

“Each team will have an opportunity to purchase buy-ins for the games, and all proceeds will go toward their unit donations for the campaign,” said Close.

Beyond the kickball tournament, there are easy ways for everyone to give back.

“Donate!” said Close. “The campaign isn’t about how much you give, it’s about how many people give. Giving up one $5 coffee every month secures the funds needed to support Soldiers today and tomorrow. If a Soldier sets up an allotment for $5 a month, that’s $2.50 per paycheck. We spend more than that on sodas, coffee or energy drinks in a week.”

Close emphasized it is a community effort to take care of each other in need.

“Truth be told, most Soldiers will never need AER, but we are all responsible for the ones that do,” said Close.

Click for more information on Army Emergency Relief on Fort Novosel, including the upcoming kickball tournament.

More on the 2024 AER Annual Campaign.