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Fort Bennings 2013 Army Emergency Relief campaign is officially under way, and donations are currently being sought.
The campaign officially kicked off Friday at Derby Auditorium, with retired Sgt. Maj. Steve Broadway of AER headquarters financial assistance department on hand to speak about the advantages of the AER campaign.
Fully one-third of the Army either retires, separates, or leaves the Army in some fashion every year, and theyre replaced by new Soldiers and officers, so this is the way we get the word out to them, Broadway said. We want them to know that theres a financial safety net that can be there to help them when they have financial emergencies. The best way to do that is an annual campaign.
AER provides Soldiers with assistance in case of financial emergencies, and will provide interest-free loans or grants to meet needs such as food, rent or utilities, emergency transportation and vehicle repair, funeral expenses and medical or dental expenses. Currently, AER has a total net worth of roughly $280 million, and Broadway said that money is used for a variety of purposes.
At any given time, one-third of that money is actively being used for loans and grants to assist Soldiers, Broadway said. The other two-thirds is in a very safe interest accumulation account, and we take that interest and run other programs such as survivor assistance. If a retiree passes away, his retired pay stops and his Social Security stops. ... If the survivor applies and is approved for assistance, Army Emergency Relief steps in and helps survivors with basic living expenses like the rent or mortgage, car payment and utilities. We help keep those basic living necessities going, so a lot of that interest is what we use for that.
AER also provides scholarship opportunities to children, spouses and surviving spouses of Soldiers.
Ninety percent of all scholarship applicants get something, Broadway said. I dont think theres an institution in this country that can brag that they can do that. That is impressive. That money comes about primarily through the interest account.
Each year, the AER campaign is held not only to get the word out, but also to replenish the immediately available AER funds.
We have to refill the coffers, Broadway said. We gave out over $7 million in grants and $70 million in loans, and the campaign brings in money to replace that.
Donations to AER during the campaign also help AER maintain its tax-exempt status as a private nonprofit organization.
In 2012, $274,000 was raised for AER through Fort Bennings campaign. AER, meanwhile, provided members of the Fort Benning community with more than $2.6 million in emergency relief, including $376,000 in grants that do not have to be repaid. For every dollar your campaign brought in, $10 went out, so Id say thats a pretty good return on the investment, Broadway said.
Col. Jeffrey Fletcher, garrison commander, also was on hand for the campaigns kickoff, and took the opportunity to express his gratitude to those assisting with this years campaign.
Those of you that are tasked with being the AER representatives, I want to thank you in advance for the great things that you are about to do, Fletcher said.
Sometimes you lose sight of how your efforts are truly making a huge difference in the quality of life for our Soldiers, Families, retirees and widows. Know that I can appreciate having an additional duty or two or three or four or five, but this is one where your efforts are truly going to make a huge difference.
To donate to AER, contact your AER representative or visit aerhq.org. All contributions are tax deductible.