2019-03-01 / Front Page

AER campaign depends on you

Laura Levering
Fort Gordon Public Affairs


Pvt. Maya Davis, 67th Expeditionary Battalion, shares some memories of how Army Emergency Relief came to her aid during a family crisis. She was one of several speakers at a Feb. 25 event helping put this year’s AER fundraising campaign into motion. Bill Bengtson / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office Pvt. Maya Davis, 67th Expeditionary Battalion, shares some memories of how Army Emergency Relief came to her aid during a family crisis. She was one of several speakers at a Feb. 25 event helping put this year’s AER fundraising campaign into motion. Bill Bengtson / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office The last news Pvt. Maya Davis expected to hear upon returning from holiday block leave was that there had been a death in her family. Davis, a multichannel transmission systems operator-maintainer assigned to 67th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, was not financially ready to take an emergency trip back to Ohio where she had just returned from. Not knowing where to turn, Davis’s company commander told her about Army Emergency Relief. A few appointments and some paperwork later, she was on her way back to Ohio.

The 2019 Army Emergency Relief Campaign kicked off Tuesday at Gordon’s Conference and Catering Center. The event was hosted by Fort Gordon Army Community Service.

AER is the Army’s nonprofit organization that provides emergency financial assistance to active duty Soldiers, retirees, and their families.

“It is a stepping stone to help you get to where you need to go … It just solidifies that factor to me that the Army in itself can be an extra family,” Davis said during the campaign’s kickoff.

Since its inception in 1942, AER has provided more than $1.8 billion in financial assistance to 3.7 million Soldiers and their families; or an average of more than $61 million to more than 40,000 Soldiers and their families each year.

Fort Gordon Garrison Commander Col. Jim Clifford said that at Fort Gordon, $643,386 in AER assistance was provided to 398 Soldiers and families in 2018 for things such as rent, utility bills, vehicle repairs, and emergency travel.

In addition to standard assistance, there is an AER scholarship program that awarded $8 million Army-wide to Army spouses and dependents during the 2018-2019 school year. Of that total, 77 Fort Gordon children and 21 spouses were awarded a combined $223,000 toward their education.

“From a financial perspective, in order for AER to continue to do the things that it does right now, it has to garner at least one-third of their funding through donations,” Clifford said. “They can’t just have it self-generating. It has to be donations that help drive that.”

Melissa Smith, Financial Readiness Program manager, said the goal for this year’s Fort Gordon campaign is to raise $100,000. And she is relying heavily on Army leadership to help achieve that goal.

Dozens of Army leaders attended the campaign kickoff to receive training as unit project officers and basic level certifiers for AER. Clifford described them as the “first line of defense” in educating Servicemembers on the program. He asked them to be proactive in getting the word out so that personnel know how to apply for assistance and make contributions.

“You have a lot of Servicemembers out there that have things thrown at them that they just weren’t expecting, and they have to be able to get through that,” Clifford said. “This is just one more thing in your toolkit to be able to get them the help your Soldiers need.”

The annual AER campaign runs through May 15. Donations are tax deductible and can be made online at www.aerhq.org, or by contacting an AER unit project officer.

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