By Chuck Matthews
Special to GUIDON
The Army Emergency Relief 2019 Fundraising Campaign will be ending Saturday. This is the 77th anniversary of AER, and the goal is $125,000 from active duty Soldiers.
As of June 7, AER has raised $91,000 toward that goal. To help Soldiers and retirees with financial emergencies that arise, contact your unit AER representative, or call Capt. Jameson Albers or Sgt. 1st Class Michael Hernandez at 573.596.2592/2596.
AER is a non-profit charity organization — not part of the Army or the U.S. government — that provides a wide variety of emergency financial assistance to Soldiers, retirees and family members. This includes National Guard and Reserve Soldiers on active duty, or when activated or deployed to natural disaster areas, or affected by the disasters, such as the current Midwest flooding and tornado national disaster area in nine states.
Donations received during the fundraising campaign go toward assisting local Soldiers, retirees and their dependents throughout the year. In 2018, local AER staff provided $562,222 in loans and grants to 381 local Soldiers, retirees and survivors, including 78 full or partial grants worth $78,486 to local Soldiers.
AER 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 3,971 scholarships worth $8.4 million.
The scholarships are awarded based on financial need and are awarded 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 and are disbursed equally between the fall and spring semesters or quarters. Students must maintain a grade point average of at least 2.0 on a 4.0 grading scale.
Some of the newest policies for AER in 2018 and 2019 include the following assistance categories:
— Emergency Leave costs for active duty Soldiers on verified Emergency Leave travel, are eligible for 50% of necessary travel costs as a grant if for an immediate family member. Depending on the relationship of the family member and financial ability, the grant may be up to 100 percent for travel costs.
— Child Car Seats for DEERS enrolled dependent children are eligible for a grant up to $250.00.
— 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 service member’s portion.
—Funeral cost assistance for dependent spouse or child raised to $15,000 loan amount.
— Minor home repairs for owner/occupant Soldier and retirees that include HVAC, heaters, interior plumbing and electrical, etc.
— Immigration or naturalization fees for active duty Soldiers recently married to a foreign born spouse may be eligible for a grant for certain costs.
— PCS or relocation fees for Soldiers that have not received travel advances or DLA before traveling on PCS orders.
All the above assistance has guidelines and restrictions that apply to the cost and situation.
For more information on how to donate, call AER Officer Chuck Matthews at 573.596.0212.