These past three months have been jam-packed with Army Emergency Relief updates from introducing new assistance programs to exciting partnerships. We distributed $11 million to over six thousand Soldiers and Families and stepped in as new challenges came up, providing emergency aid to those affected by Hurricane Ida and expanding our PCS assistance category to support Soldiers when their Temporary Lodging entitlements expire. However, despite the newer programs, our most requested categories of assistance remain personally owned vehicles, housing and utilities.
Here is a breakdown of what Army Emergency Relief has done in Quarter 3:
Readiness: Although AER exists to provide support after an emergency has hit, we understand the tremendous value of Soldier and Family readiness at all times. So, it’s important that we introduce resources available in preparation for an emergency as well. This past quarter, we focused on promoting organization, preparation and emergency planning to equip the Army community with the tools they need to avoid an emergency altogether – or at least minimize the effects of an emergency when it inevitably hits.
Our collaboration with List & File allowed us to promote the importance of a “life binder” and provide AER-themed binder inserts to those who attended our Spouse Empowerment event on August 11 with Military Child Education Coalition. Additionally, our Military Spouse Ambassador Krista Simpson Anderson hosted a Facebook Live with the Owner of List and File Liz Cook to discuss preparation strategies for Military Families.
People First: We also introduced multiple new initiatives and events in conjunction with our highest priority being People First. In July, AER committed $3 million in grants towards the Army’s Career Skills Program which allows retiring and separating Soldiers to participate in skills training during their transitional period to improve their civilian employment options. This past quarter, the CSP support initiative was piloted at Fort Hood, Fort Bliss and JBLM and is currently set to expand Army-wide soon.
Additionally, there was a nationwide labor shortage of packers and truck drivers this PCS season. These mover shortages coupled with delayed scheduling and cancellations led to financial challenges for many Soldiers and their Families as their Temporary Lodging entitlements expire. As a result, Army Emergency Relief began providing assistance to Soldiers and Families affected by unexpected PCS delays when their TLE and TLA entitlements expire.
Most recently, we invested an additional $2 million towards National Military Family Association’s Child Care Fee Relief Program to provide further support for Military Families during a time where childcare is key. This partnership allowed us to reach as many Families in need of childcare during the pandemic as we could and increased our scope of assistance. Although the program’s deadline has passed, we continue to provide childcare assistance through AER to all Army Families in need.
And, of course, we made sure to celebrate and highlight the U.S. Army’s Active-Duty Olympians and Paralympians as they broke records and brought home gold medals at the Tokyo Summer Olympic games this year. We also made sure to honor the 20th Anniversary of 9-11 and Gold Star Mother’s and Families’ Day
Disaster Relief: Earlier in the year, we committed $1 million towards Natural Disaster assistance in anticipation for hurricane season. In light of Hurricane Ida, we came alongside Military Families in Louisiana and surrounding states (Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Arkansas), providing a one-time grant of $500 to cover evacuation expenses. AER also provided options in Recovery Assistance for home repair or other essential needs as Families prepare, evacuate and rebuild. We expect to continue offering these modes of assistance as natural disasters and emergencies continue to be a threat.
Military Support: AER Director Lieutenant General (Ret.) Raymond Mason visited a couple different military bases this past quarter – most recently, Fort Wainwright in Alaska and Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington –with the goal of bringing more awareness of AER and emphasizing our ability to help with any challenge Soldiers face across the board. During these visits, LTG Mason introduced AER’s interest-free loans, grants and scholarships all available for over 30 different categories of assistance. He also met with AER representatives, Financial and Military Leaders, and Soldiers and their Familie to encourage them and better understand the needs AER can meet.
In his time at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, LTG Mason summarized his mindset regarding AER by saying, “This is just my way of giving back for all the Military has afforded me and my Family.”
As we look towards the last quarter of the year, we are eagerly anticipating the events to come. From the AUSA Annual Meeting to the Army-Navy Football Game, Army Emergency Relief will be hosting and participating in a variety of different events. We look forward to helping even more Soldiers and introducing new and unique ways of providing assistance as needed.
Below are some of the events we’re excited about:
AUSA Award Ceremony: Every year, installations across the globe dedicate themselves to the U.S. Army’s Annual AER Campaign. To celebrate the immense amount of hard work each installation displays to cultivate a culture of care, AER awarded winners to be honored at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual meeting on October 11 -13. The AUSA Award Ceremony is being held with the Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston to showcase the installations that brought about the most awareness for AER and pushing us ever closer to our goal of 100% Soldier awareness.
Spouse Empowerment: On November 10th at 12PM EST, our third segment of the Spouse Empowerment series will finally be taking place. This meeting will be co-hosted by the Military Family Advisory Network, so we will have the opportunity to partner with MFAN’s Shelley Kimball, Ph.D. who “gathers the real-life experience of Military Families to understand where they most need support and makes sure they get it.” As she shares the pain points of Military Families and her experience in serving them we will tie in all the support and resources available to strengthen our Army community. You can register for this Zoom event now to reserve your spot!