By Paul Hughes
U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart
COVID-19 made routine fund raising for the annual Army Emergency Relief campaign—which provides interest-free loans, grants and scholarships to eligible military members in Stuttgart—unfeasible this Spring.
To continue AER’s legacy of caring, the campaign is happening now in July.
Staff Sgt. William Slaughter, a non-commissioned officer with Special Operations Command – Europe and a regular contributor to AER, promotes the AER campaign to many of his Soldiers.
He tells them about a Soldier whose insurance failed to pay out, creating a financial emergency in which he was unable to afford to return home. An AER grant helped the Soldier get back the U.S. In 2019, when Slaughter needed to purchase a car seat for his newborn, he found himself in his own financial emergency.
“Without a car seat, you cannot leave the hospital with your child” Slaughter said, adding that he went to Army Community Service on Panzer Kaserne to apply.
“The team they have here is phenomenal at solving problems.” Slaughter said.
Last year more than 130 eligible Stuttgart military community members sought assistance from AER to pay for lodging, funeral expenses, vehicle costs, home repair, clothing and more. They benefited from nearly $164,000 in AER assistance. However, the total fund raising efforts on the garrison amounted to just $9,000 in donations.
Soldiers can also apply for AER assistance online. In Slaughter’s case, the application was approved and completed, with the money available in just a few days.
“Together, from senior leaders to our most junior Soldiers, we must work together to generate what is required to ensure AER continues its legacy of Soldiers helping Soldiers,” said Col. Jason Condrey, USAG Stuttgart garrison commander.
USAG Stuttgart is a purple community, Condrey said, and all branches of the armed forces are eligible for AER assistance.
“AER is here to support military members, Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guard, both regular and reserve including retirees, through this fight, and we will be there to support AER in July,” Condrey said.