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May 10, 2012

Army Emergency Relief Campaign update

By Bob Lucas
Fort Irwin AER officer

Have you ever wondered why the AER Program continues to survive over the years to assist our Soldiers?   Could it be the donations to the program from our active duty and retired Soldiers?  Or could it be the paying back of the hundreds of loans by our Soldiers?  To a degree both of these are correct; however, there are donations from various estates, trusts, and companies that play a large part in the AER bottom line.  However, the pure intent of the 2012 AER Campaign is much like those in the past…to ensure our active duty and retired Soldiers at all levels and grades are aware of the AER Program and what it can do for them.   We do give grants to Soldiers and Family members, but it must be due to special circumstances or the ability to pay back the loan.  If this were not the case, then AER would have no money to loan out to our Soldiers.  Then, why should we give to AER?  Below are some of the possible answers.

Why should Senior Officers and Senior NCOs give to AER?  Because we want Soldiers to have the ability to focus on the mission, then taking care of the Soldiers’ financial issues, problems and emergencies make sense.  The donations allow AER to continue to prosper for that purpose…to assist our senior leaders in carrying out the mission of the Army, Department of Defense, and the United States.  AER is part of that mission and is a key proponent to the success of leadership.

Why should Junior Officers give to AER?  Aside from the fact that our junior officers may one day need AER themselves, the main purpose for our junior officers to donate is to ensure AER will be there later when junior officers become senior officers.  AER will be the financial cornerstone for our junior officers to assist Soldiers financially when the need arrives during emergencies and stress.  As Executive Officers, Staff Officers, and Action Officers, junior officers interface with the financial needs of Soldiers…to assist them during tough times.  AER is the quick fix to assist in these times of financial problems.

Why should Mid-Level NCOs, Junior NCOs, and young Soldiers give to AER?  The most common words I hear are “I never thought I would need AER Help.”   AER exists to assist our Soldiers and their Families in time of emergencies, times of need, and when financial problems are encountered.  I am told many times that “AER was my last resort.”  Can you imagine not assisting a Soldier when we are the last resort?  It makes sense for all Soldiers to donate to the one program that is there to assist them in times of need.   By keeping AER solvent throughout our future, soldiers are helping fellow Soldiers.  That is why the AER motto is “The Army Taking Care of Its Own.”

Why should Army Retirees give to AER?  Because the retirees are eligible to use AER when times are tough and in a variety of areas, paying for rent, food, vehicle repair, and many other necessities is a real need in today’s economy.  It should not be a surprise to any of us that the Army Retiree population gives the largest amount of money to the AER Campaign.  The retirees are generous and average 75% to 80% of the donations compared to 15% to 20% that is donated by the active duty Soldiers.

We still have a chance to make a difference in the 2012 Fort Irwin AER Campaign.  The campaign officially ends on 15 May 2012.  Donate now by contacting your AER Campaign Key Worker within your organization or call CPT Hale-Hernandez at 760-380-4745 or e-mail, chea.v.halehernandez.mil@mail.mil.   Another choice is to visit Bldg 561, Room 8 to pick up a pledge form or pledge forms from the AER Office, Bob Lucas, AER Officer, call 380-3513 or e-mail, Robert.c.lucas.civ@mil.com.   The choice to donate is your decision.  Just think how many Soldiers and Families you will be helping through your donation to this worthy cause.




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