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Annual AER campaign gives big boost to Soldiers in need

Northwest Guardian

Published: 11:18AM February 28th, 2013

With the motto of “helping the Army take care of its own,” the Army Emergency Relief campaign begins today at Joint Base Lewis-McChord to raise funds for emergency financial assistance for Soldiers in need.

The fundraising period ends May 15 and JBLM AER representatives have already been out meeting with units and commanders to get Soldiers involved in giving to the campaign, Donna Ley, AER project coordinator, said.

“Our goal is 100 percent contact to ensure Soldiers are informed about the campaign,” she said.

AER is a worldwide nonprofit organization that meets a variety of needs including children and spouse scholarships, grants to wounded warriors and benefits for surviving Family members. Since its establishment in 1942, AER has helped more than 3 million individuals with more than $1 billion in financial aid.

“We take great pride in our commitment to be there when we are needed,” said the AER president, retired Gen. Dennis J. Reimer, in a statement on the organization’s website. “We continually look at new and innovative ways to improve our policies and programs and expedite the process of providing assistance.”

Last year, JBLM donated $243,370 to AER, and AER paid out about $2 million in interest-free loans and grants to JBLM Soldiers, retirees and their Family members. Aid can be used to pay for unexpected costs due to an emergency situation, such as vehicle repairs, funeral costs, or medical expenses. Spouses are able to apply for AER assistance while their Soldier is deployed as long as they have a power of attorney.

Ley said the JBLM campaign does not set a fundraising goal, but some JBLM units do.

“Some units have personal goals to donate more this year,” she said.

AER is also kicking off a scholarship program for spouses and children of Soldiers. The Maj. Gen. James Ursano Scholarship Program and the Spouse Education Assistance Program are need-based scholarship programs created to help spouses and children of Soldiers obtain a four-year undergraduate degree. Assistance may be provided for up to four academic years. Applications are being accepted for the 2013-2014 academic year and the deadline to apply is May 1. Visit www.aerhq.org and select “scholarships” for more information about how to apply.

Ley said anyone can give to AER and donations can be made through payroll deduction or online with a credit card at www.aerhq.org. For more information about how to donate, contact Ley at 967-9812.