Three U.S. Army garrisons were recognized last week by Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston for having the highest active-duty participation rates during the 2022 Army Emergency Relief Annual Campaign.
- Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia: small category (1,000-2,000 active-duty Soldiers); 64 percent participation
- Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri: medium category (2,000-10,000 active-duty Soldiers); 70 percent participation
- Fort Jackson, South Carolina: large category (10,000 and more active-duty Soldiers); 65 percent participation
This was the second year top garrisons were awarded for their participation rates and the second wins for both Fort Leonard Wood and Fort Jackson. Presidio of Monterey, California, won the small installation category in 2021.
These installations went above and beyond the call in the active-duty campaign, said retired Lt. Gen. Raymond Mason, AER director, said during the awards ceremony, which took place during the SMA Initiatives Briefing on Oct. 13 at the Association of the United States Army Conference in Washington D.C.
“The campaign we run every year is about informing Soldiers,” Mason said. “Our goal is 100 percent of all Soldiers — and hopefully Army Families — informed of the programs and benefits of AER … and give them an opportunity to donate.”
Angela Crosland, Financial Readiness Program Manager at Fort Jackson, said she has a committed, passionate team that is well-versed in AER’s programs. One of the keys to their success is having the right people in the job who believe in what they’re doing because it translates in their interactions with Soldiers, she added.
Crosland attended the AUSA ceremony with Maj. Jabaka Sherrod, the installation’s campaign coordinator; Command Sgt. Maj. Rigoberto Duran, Fort Jackson’s senior noncommissioned officer; and Wanda Redd, AER officer.
AER really is a force multiplier, Crosland said, and her team can truly affect change and help Soldiers.
This was Sgt. 1st Class William Byers’ first time working on the annual campaign, and said it was important he was well-versed in AER programs so he could answer any questions from Hunter Army Airfield leaders and Soldiers as their campaign coordinator.
He also drew upon his own experience with the nonprofit, having used AER assistance to fly home on emergency leave when stationed in Germany.
Byers attended the awards ceremony with Lt. Col. Robert Cuthbertson and Command Sgt. Maj. Ryan Reichard, garrison command team, and Sandra Westbrook, AER officer.
AER does what it does because it’s about combat readiness, Mason said.
“It’s about resiliency, helping you help your Soldiers’ resiliency,” he said to leaders — top NCOs from across the Army — at the AUSA ceremony. “Let me just give you an example: a Soldier, if they’re distracted by something in their life — and in this case is its finances — they’re probably not focused on their MOS training. They’re likely not focused on the unit mission.”
If those Soldiers are sent into combat they are potentially a danger to themselves and the Soldiers on their left and right, Mason added.