By Eric E. Parris | Fort Carson Public Affairs Office
FORT CARSON, Colo. — “A Hand-Up for Soldiers – It’s What We Do,” is this year’s theme for the Army Emergency Relief (AER) campaign from March 1 to May 15, 2021, which had its official kickoff March 3, 2021, at the Elkhorn Conference Center.
Leaders and Soldiers from across the 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson gathered at the center for this event.
For 79 years, the AER has provided Soldiers and their Family members with financial assistance in their times of need.
Communication is a key element during the campaign.
“This is about helping ensure we communicate to every Soldier the opportunity to give,” said Maj. Gen. Matthew W. McFarlane, commanding general, 4th Inf. Div. and Fort Carson, during his opening remarks. “AER is in fact a People First activity and an aspect of our Army culture as we continue to do here for 79 years.”
The goal is to inform 100% of the Soldiers about AER, so they have the opportunity to participate in the campaign, said Fred Lewis, the Fort Carson AER officer. The financial goal for the post is $150,000.
Contributions are accepted from active-duty Soldiers, retirees and DOD civilians. For information on how to donate, visit the AER website at https://www.armyemergencyrelief.org/ or the Army Community Service website at https://carson.armymwr.com/programs/army-community-service.
AER has a legacy of supporting Soldiers and Families.
“AER has helped over four million Soldiers since its inception in 1942,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Adam Nash, senior enlisted leader, 4th Inf. Div. and Fort Carson. “That’s over $2 billion of assistance of service members helping service members.”
AER helps Soldiers to stay missioned focused.
“Because of the donations for this great cause, our Soldiers have stayed focused on the mission,” Nash said. “Families are given a peace of mind and sense of security.”
Even during the pandemic in 2020, people still came through with contributions.
“It was a tough year for Families, but we’re very thankful for those donations.” Lewis said. “We collected over $80,000 last year.”
Soldiers and their Families at Fort Carson last year received $1.8 million in AER assistance.
DOD card holders, retirees and military spouses with a special power of attorney stating they can receive AER assistance are eligible for assistance, Lewis said.
AER provides zero-interest loans and grants, and in some situations, the assistance may be part loan and grant.
“For emergency travel, regardless of rank, we always do part loan and part grant,” Lewis said.
In addition to emergency travel, assistance can be provided for dental assistance, car repair and security deposit for first month’s rent.
Those in need of assistance should apply online at the AER website, Lewis said. After the individual completes and submits the application, a case worker is assigned and will make contact within 24 hours.
The campaign of Soldiers helping Soldiers and continuing that legacy is an ongoing process.
“We tell the legacy (Soldiers) that we started in 1942 — it’s Soldiers taking care of Soldiers,” Lewis said. “If we talk about our rich history, the hope is that Soldiers will understand.”
Educating commanders and their Soldiers can make a difference.
“We tell leaders and Soldiers when they think about AER, we’re your partners,” Lewis said. “We will educate and assist. We want to take the pressure off Soldiers.”