Fort McCoy News July 12, 2013

AER campaign totals more than $52,000 in donations

Soldiers and retirees in the Fort McCoy community contributed $52,116.03 to the Army Emergency Relief (AER) campaign, which ended May 15.

Dianne Sommers, Fort McCoy AER officer for Army Community Service, said the program provides emergency assistance to active-duty Soldiers to pay rent/mortgage, essential privately owned vehicle repairs/costs, travel expenses, utilities, funeral expenses, HVAC repair, and essential furniture costs. AER assistance also can be provided through the Commander's Referral Program, which can approve loans up to $1,500.

AER assistance is provided in the form of an interest-free loan, a grant or a combination of a grant and a loan. Each case is considered on an individual basis. Soldiers who are on active-duty orders for 30 or more days are eligible to apply for AER assistance.

Grants are provided to individuals in the case of catastrophic circumstances beyond the individual's control, when repayment of a loan will cause additional hardship.

Sommers said the use of AER assistance is encouraged to keep Soldiers from using predatory lenders in the communities.
Using predatory lenders can cause high-interest debt for Soldiers, which can be difficult to pay off, she said.

Of the $52,116.03 raised during the Fort McCoy campaign, Soldiers contributed $6,282, and retirees contributed $45,834.03.

The amount of assistance the Fort McCoy AER program can provide is not limited by how much it raises during the campaign, Sommers said. In fiscal year 2012, the Fort McCoy AER program provided $146,349.15 in assistance to 80 Soldiers.

Contributions to the AER program are accepted year-round online at the AER website www.aerhq.org. For more information, call Sommers at 608-388-6712/3505.

Financial Assistance Forms 600 and 700, which Soldiers must complete to apply for assistance, also are available at the website.