GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria Army Community Service will run its annual Army Emergency Relief Campaign March 1 to May 15.
USAG Bavaria community members are encouraged to donate to the campaign. This year’s goal is $60,000 for the garrison’s footprint.
“While it is important to reach or exceed this year’s monetary goal of $60,000, it is even more important to reach the 100 percent goal of informed contacts as set by AER Headquarters,” said Mary Cron, USAG Bavaria Financial Readiness Program manager and AER officer. “This ensures the word is getting out regarding the various programs and categories of assistance that AER has to offer. It also means that the new initiatives and updates set by AER and put in place at the beginning of every year will be relayed to the people they are designed to assist: our Soldiers, retired Soldiers and their families.”
In 2018, community members donated $49,167.65 to AER. Yet the money provided to those in need totaled much higher.
According to the AER Financial Readiness Program specialists, in 2018, 365 USAG Bavaria community members received a total of $582,612.07 in loan, grant and scholarship money to assist with emergency financial needs and scholarships.
“Life is full of surprises,” said Patricia Mallard, USAG Bavaria personal financial counselor and AER officer. “Our service members and families have to navigate these surprises and get back to life as fast as possible. AER provides the financial relief that does not negatively affect your credit score like a credit card or high-interest loan would. Surprises are going to happen, and if the surprise relates to housing, furniture, appliances, utilities, travel expenses, leaving a domestic violence situation, food, POV, cranial helmets, medical care, dental care, home repair, funeral expenses, clothing or many other topics, come to your local ACS and see what your AER officer can do for you.”
AER is a private nonprofit organization with a sole mission of providing emergency financial assistance to both active duty and retired Soldiers, their eligible family members, and widows whenever there is a valid financial need.
To help meet these needs, community members located within USAG Bavaria at Grafenwoehr, Vilseck, Hohenfels and Garmisch can continue the tradition of “taking care of our own” with a voluntary contribution to AER during the campaign.
“With more people being made aware of how AER assists, and what they assist with, in times of financial need, it only follows that the generous nature of our Soldiers and retirees, along with those who work with them, are more willing to support the AER campaign through increased donations,” said Cron.
The AER Financial Readiness Program will also host a second kickoff event March 11 from noon to 1 p.m. at the Tower Barracks Religious Support Office Chapel Annex for company commanders, first sergeants and unit AER campaign project officers. The community is also invited to hear about some new initiatives that AER has put in place, including funding for car seats, increased assistance with dependent dental care, and immigration and visa assistance.
How to donate
The easiest way for Soldiers to donate is by allotment. This can be done to fit anyone’s budget with allotment amounts starting as low as $1 a month (50 cents per paycheck). Soldiers should contact their unit’s AER representative. If you don’t know who your unit representative is, ask your chain of command.
Retired Soldiers may also have the opportunity to donate by allotment. However, anyone can make a donation by cash or check. Additional options are also available by visiting www.aerhq.org/donate/donate-now.
The ACS AER points of contact for the campaign are Patricia Mallard and Tawan Parsons. For additional questions or information, they can be emailed at email@example.com.
How to apply for an AER loan or grant
In some instances, the situation can be just as easily resolved through the Soldier’s chain of command through AER’s Commander’s Quick Assist Program. Talking to the commander or first sergeant may be the first step.
In other cases that may be more complex, or in situations that involve or may involve a grant, the Soldier can go straight to their local AER Office for the Direct Access Program. The Direct Access Program allows a Soldier to seek assistance without obtaining the signature of the commander or first sergeant.
With so many changes and updates in AER policies, AER should be the first place the commander or first sergeant send their Soldiers for assistance.
Financial assistance is given in the form of an interest-free loan, grant, or combination of the two. Loans are repaid by an allotment.
AER helps with the following emergency financial needs:
Additionally, AER partners with other military aid societies to enable local assistance for service members from the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
As a secondary mission, AER also provides scholarships toward education, giving spouses and dependent children of Army Soldiers great opportunities for their first undergraduate degree! Application information can be found online at www.aerhq.org/.
For more information or to locate resources and forms, visit the USAG Bavaria ACS Financial Readiness Program online.