AER: taking care of Soldiers, families

Staff Sgt. Kristina Staub was in the middle of a family crisis. Sgt. Dana Eynon was going through a divorce.

 Spc. Eddie Sherrod’s young son was being treated for cancer. Richard Pressley, a retired sergeant first class, struggled to make ends meet.

Four Soldiers, four separate sets of circumstances — yet each found help through Army Emergency Relief.

AER provides emergency financial assistance to active duty and retired Soldiers, their family members, surviving spouses and orphans.

For Staub, assigned to U.S. Africa Command, a $1,500 AER loan helped to ease some of her anxiety during a turbulent, emotional period.

“It made my life and my circumstances so much easier to get through — knowing there was one less thing I didn’t have to worry about,” Staub said.“In a matter of 24 hours, I had the money to take care of the situation.”

Staub was one of 66,038 people who received $70.9 million in emergency assistance in 2008.

Soldiers and their families may find themselves in need of financial assistance for vehicle repairs, emergency travel, rent, utilities or medical expenses, according to Faith Barnes, the U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart AER officer.

“Things happen and we understand that. We’re here for that particular happenstance,” Barnes said. 

AER emergency financial assistance is provided as either an interest-free loan, a grant or a combination of the two.

“We look at the total situation and make a decision based on that individual’s needs. No two cases are alike,” Barnes said. “We try and help them the best way that we can.”

AER is supported by voluntary contributions from active and retired Soldiers. “Helping the Army take care of its own” is the program’s slogan.

“The money comes from Soldiers and it goes back to the Soldiers,” said Barnes.
The Army will conduct the Army Emergency Relief annual campaign through May 15. The campaign gives Soldiers the opportunity to help their fellow Soldiers through donations to AER.

The program also accepts unsolicited donations from individual donors and corporations.

For more information on the 2010 AER campaign, call Capt. Timothy Mitchell, campaign coordinator, at 431-2086/civ. 07031-15-2086. For information on AER assistance, call Faith Barnes at 431-2085/civ. 07031-15-2085, or visit the AER Web site at