AER available all year to help Soldiers with financial needs
The Army Emergency Relief program continues to find ways to provide financial assistance to Soldiers in need.
With the increase in demand for home schooling and childcare due to COVID-19 restrictions, AER introduced a new assistance program this month to help Army families address the costs associated with childcare assistance.
Reduced capacity and closure of childcare facilities present a financial challenge for some Army families, said retired Lt. Gen. Raymond Mason, AER director.
While AER already has a program in place to augment childcare costs up to $500 per month for the first three months, Mason said “that may not be enough for some families.”
“So, we put a childcare program in place that assists with no dollar max for homeschooling, tutoring or childcare,” he said.
As with other AER programs, active-duty Soldiers and their eligible family members — such as dependent spouses — along with Reserve Soldiers on Title 10 orders for more than 30 consecutive days are eligible.
According to Fort Leonard Wood AER Officer Chuck Matthews, there are a variety of helpful programs available for expenses related to emergency travel, natural disaster preparation and evacuation, mortgages, rent and initial housing deposits, temporary lodging, food, healthcare not covered by Tricare, vehicle repairs, utilities, appliance replacement, minor home repairs, funerals, and more.
“If you’re having financial problems, please visit us,” Matthews said. “We’ll sit down with you; we’ll work through it. We’re here to help.”
Matthews said Fort Leonard Wood Soldiers have benefited from AER to the tune of $400,000 so far in 2020. Annually, $70 million in assistance is provided across the Army.
Mason said what keeps him awake at night is thinking of Soldiers hurting financially and turning to a “predatory” payday lender instead of visiting AER, in person or online, for help.
“The interest rate that a payday lender can charge is pretty exorbitant,” he said. “Our loans are zero interest, or you may end up with a grant that you don’t have to pay back. Asking for help is a sign of strength. Things happen in people’s lives, but Soldiers think if they go to AER there will be repercussions — that’s not true. The chain of command supports AER; they know why it’s there. It’s Soldiers helping Soldiers.”
For more information on AER assistance programs, visit https://www.armyemer gencyrelief.org or call the Fort Leonard Wood AER office at 573.596.3154.