Fort Irwin 2020 AER Campaign raises more than $69,000 amid pandemic

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FORT IRWIN, Calif. — The Fort Irwin Army Emergency Relief Campaign ended its challenging 2020 season by raising $69,916.53 in contributions from March 1 to July 31.

Normally the AER campaign season runs from March 1 – May 15, but due to the COVID-19 global pandemic and the need for physical distancing, the campaign was extended.

“Normally we do big assemblies and presentations with soldiers and explain the importance of the program, but we couldn’t do that because of social distancing,” said Cpt. Ian James, Fort Irwin AER Coordinator. “It was a lot of focus on phone calls, posters, and using Facebook live.”

Cpt. James became an advocate for the AER program as a young specialist, when his spouses needed emergency dental surgery while he was attending Advance Individual Training.

“I had no idea what I was going to do, but my drill sergeant told me, ‘Hey its handled, let’s take you to AER, they’ll get you what you need, you don’t have to worry about interest,’ and I was able to focus on training.”

Locally, the Army Emergency Relief Program has assisted just under 200 active, retired soldiers and family members with more than $280,000 this year in the form of loans and grants.

“AER is such an important thing,” he said. “The last thing we want is for the soldiers to take their mind off the mission. That’s what AER helps out with, it increases readiness.”

Since 1942, AER has provided $2 billion to nearly four million soldiers, including $1 billion since 9/11. Through zero-interest loans, grants, and educational scholarships, AER ensures no soldier faces financial hardship on their own.

For more information on Army Emergency Relief, visit armyemergencyrelief.org or call the local Fort Irwin office at 760-380-3513.

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