OTC leaders encourage AER donations

A graphic of the Earth with the logo for U.S. Army Operational Test Command over it

U.S. Army Operational Test Command | March 16, 2023

WEST FORT HOOD, Texas — Leaders of the unit responsible for testing new and modernized equipment before it is fielded to Soldiers began the 2023 Army Emergency Relief campaign with a video urging workforce donations.

“My goal is to make sure that everyone in the command understands the benefits that AER can provide to you and your family,” said Col. George C. Hackler, U.S. Army Operational Test Command commander.

AER’s annual fundraising campaign for the Army’s official nonprofit began March 1 and continues through May 15.

Robert Stone, OTC’s Civilian Executive Director, reminded folks how AER has been around for 81 years helping Soldiers and their Families.

“In the last year alone, AER awarded $65 million in grants, scholarships, and loans to more than 40,000 Soldiers in need,” he said. “That aid was only possible because of the Soldiers, leaders, Family members and civilians that donated.”

OTC’s senior enlisted leader reminded everyone that AER is about “Soldiers Helping Soldiers,” and how emergencies can always happen.

“Look to your left and your right at your battle buddies. You never know when an emergency involving financial stress will come up,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Martin M. Conroy. “AER is about providing relief for hardship.

“Whether it is car repairs, rent assistance, utility bills or youth scholarships,” he continued, “there are over 30 categories of assistance to assist our Soldiers through the hardships so we can ultimately focus on the mission and readiness.”

Thanking AER for all its support year after year, Col. Kevin S. Capra, deputy commander and chief of staff, said, “AER is here for us. Let’s make sure that we’re here for AER.

“Every donation counts. So, remember — financial readiness is readiness.”

Reflecting on how OTC helped three of its own Soldiers through the AER Quick Assistance Program, OTC’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company Commander Capt. Nastassia J. Smith established unit AER representatives in 10 directorates.

“We wanted to see if we could get 100 percent in-person contact of everybody,” she said. “That face-to-face really matters to make sure people understand and they know that not only is the unit there for them, but AER is here for them.”

About the U.S. Army Operational Test Command: As the Army’s only independent operational tester, OTC enlists the “Total Army” (Active, National Guard, and Reserve) when testing Army, joint, and multi-service warfighting systems in realistic operational environments, using typical Soldiers to determine whether the systems are effective, suitable, and survivable. OTC is required by public law to test major systems before they are fielded to its ultimate customer – the American Soldier.