Story and photo by Chuck Matthews
Special to GUIDON
The Army Emergency Relief 2019 Fundraising Campaign began Friday with the kick-off ceremony at 10 a.m. in Nutter Field House.
This is the 77th anniversary of AER, and the goal is $125,000 for active duty Soldiers. Col. Eric Towns, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood commander, was this year’s guest speaker.
AER provides a wide variety of emergency financial assistance to Soldiers, retirees and family members, including travel costs for emergency or convalescent leave, mortgage or rent payment assistance utility, food and fuel, privately-owned vehicle payments or emergency repairs, travel costs for PCS, dependent dental care assistance and appliance repair or replacement, among other things.
Some of the newest policies and changes for AER in 2018 and 2019 include the following assistance categories:
— Emergency leave costs for active Soldiers on verified emergency leave travel, are eligible for 50 percent of necessary travel costs as a grant. Depending on relationship of the family member and financial ability, coverage may be up to a 100 percent grant for travel costs.
— Child car seats for DEERS enrolled dependent children are eligible for a grant up to $250.
— Special medical equipment for DEERS dependents not covered by TriCare or insurance are eligible for a grant for certain costs.
— Cranial helmets and molding helmets medically necessary for a dependent child; eligible for a grant for a service member’s portion.
— Funeral cost assistance for dependent spouse or child raised to $15,000 loan amount.
— Immigration/naturalization fees for active Soldiers recently married to a foreign born spouse; eligible for a grant for certain costs.
Note: all the above assistance has certain guidelines and restrictions that apply to the cost and situation.
— AER also provides educational scholarships awarded through two programs, the Maj. Gen. James Ursano Scholarship Program for dependent children and the AER Spouse Scholarship Program for spouses.
In 2018, AER provided 3,845 scholarships worth $8.2 million. The scholarships are awarded based on financial need annually for up to four academic years to attend post secondary school full time as undergraduate level students.
Funds are to assist with academic expenses at the attending university/school and are disbursed equally between the fall and spring semesters or quarters to assist with tuition, books, fees and supplies.
Students must maintain a grade point average of at least 2.0 on a 4.0 grading scale. The 2018-2019 scholarships are being accepted online through April 1.
The donations raised from the fundraising campaign goes toward assisting local Soldiers, Retirees and their dependents throughout the year.
For more information on the kick-off ceremony or how to donate to AER, call Sgt. 1st Class Michael Hernandez at 573.596.6781, or to request assistance, call the AER Officer, Chuck Matthews at 573.596.3154.