By Tammy LaCroix
Supervisor, Scholarship Department
HQ Army Emergency Relief
Army Emergency Relief has been there for Soldiers and their Families for over 75 years. Incorporated by the Secretary of War and the Chief of Staff of the Army as a private non-profit in 1942, AER’s purpose was to meet the unexpected financial needs of a rapidly expanding, draftee Army. Since then, AER has provided more than $1.7 billion in assistance to more than 3.7 million Soldiers and their Families.
Just as AER has changed over the years to maintain relevance to the Army, the relationship between AER and a Soldier changes throughout the Soldier’s active duty career and into retirement. As a Retired Soldier, you may not need help with obtaining a child car seat or paying for PCS costs, but the occasional unexpected minor home repair or medical expense may cause a financial need. AER can provide assistance for those situations and many others including emergency travel, food, rent/mortgage, utilities, and vehicle repair.
As a Retired Soldier, there are multiple ways for you to engage with AER. First, if you need financial assistance, please contact the AER section nearest you. If you are not near an AER section, you can also apply for assistance at a local Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, Air Force Aid Society, or Coast Guard Mutual Assistance Office, or via the American Red Cross military assistance line at 1-877-272-7337.
Second, if you know of another Retired Soldier who needs help, make sure they know they are eligible for AER assistance and encourage them to reach out. Remember, AER does not charge fees or interest and is far less expensive than a payday lender.
Third, if you are able, consider making a donation to carry on the tradition of “Soldiers Helping Soldiers.” In 2016, Retired Soldiers gave over $3 million to AER. Eighty-four cents of every dollar donated went back to helping Soldiers and their Families – including $8.4 million in assistance provided to Retired Soldiers. Efficiency of operations and sound financial stewardship consistently allow AER to receive the highest possible 4-star rating from Charity Navigator.
Army Emergency Relief is not just for financial emergencies; AER also provides scholarships to spouses and dependent children of Retired Soldiers. For the 2017-2018 academic year alone, 81 spouses and 1,537 children of Retired Soldiers received $4 million in scholarships.
AER thanks all Retired Soldiers for their service and for their past support of Army Emergency Relief. For more information, visit the AER website, www.aerhq.org, or the AER Facebook page, www.facebook.com/AERHQ.