Fort McCoy News March 11, 2016

Post community opens AER campaign with breakfast

STORY & PHOTO BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

Members of the Fort McCoy community helped start the Army Emergency Relief (AER) campaign Feb. 29 during a kick-off breakfast at McCoy's Community Center.

The breakfast, organized by Army Community Service (ACS) with the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, promoted the importance of AER. "Army Emergency Relief provides a wide variety of help to Soldiers and their Families," said ACS Financial Readiness Program Manager and AER Officer Blonza Graves.

Photo: Army Community Service Financial Readiness Program Manager Blonza Graves talks to attendees at the Army Emergency Relief Campaign Kick-off Breakfast Feb. 29.
Army Community Service Financial Readiness Program Manager Blonza
Graves talks to attendees at the Army Emergency Relief Campaign Kick-Off Breakfast Feb. 29.

The AER campaign began March 1 and runs through May 15. The 2016 campaign theme is "Never Leave a Soldier in Need."

"The breakfast was an opportunity to inform Fort McCoy leaders that we want to reach out to Soldiers in each unit and let them know how AER can help them," said ACS Director Kevin Herman. "Knowledge is power. We want Soldiers to understand the importance of this program, and that it allows for many levels of support."

According to AER Headquarters, more than $71 million in assistance was provided to nearly 47,000 Soldiers and Families in 2015. At Fort McCoy, the community raised $70,601 during the 2015 campaign, $67,639 of which was dispersed to provide assistance to Soldiers, retired Soldiers, and their Families in 2015.

"With recent changes, there are many more ways AER can help," Graves said. "Every situation is looked at on a case-by-case basis, and AER realizes everyone's needs are different."

In September 2015, AER rules changed to allow all Soldiers, regardless of rank, direct access to applying for assistance. The only exception is for Soldiers who are in Initial-Entry Training and have less than one year time in service. Direct access without the commander/first sergeant review is limited to two assistance requests (loans or grants) within a 12-month period, regardless of rank.

Retired Gen. Dennis J. Reimer, president of AER, states the importance of the organization on the AER website, www.aerhq.org.

"We take great pride in our commitment to be there when we are needed," Reimer said. "Since inception, we have provided over $1.5 billion in assistance. But our support does not stop there. We continually look at new and innovative ways to improve our policies and programs and expedite the process of providing assistance.

"Our goal will always be to continue maintaining the highest standards of helping the Army take care of its own, which has been the hallmark of Army Emergency Relief for over 68 years," he said.

At Fort McCoy, AER is located in ACS at building 2111. Stop by the office or call Graves at 608-388-3540. More information on ACS support also be found online at mccoy.armymwr.com/us/mccoy/programs/army-community-service.

For more information about AER or to find out how to donate to the campaign, go online to www.aerhq.org.