For those facing hard economic times and financial challenges, Army Emergency Relief is here to meet the needs of active-duty Soldiers and their Families.
A private, non-profit organization incorporated in 1942 by the secretary of war and the Army chief of staff, the program is housed on Fort Bragg under the Financial Readiness Program, Army Community Service.
AER provides funds to those who may be facing emergency situations. The funds are dispersed through interest-free loans; a grant if repayment of loan would cause undue hardship; and partial loan and partial grant, said Lynn Olavarria, FRP manager.
Besides active-duty Soldiers, Family members, and Department of the Army civilians, AER is also available to:
Army National Guardsmen and Army Reservists on continuous, active duty more than 30 days and their Families
Soldiers retired from active-duty for longevity or physical disability and their
Army National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers who retired at age 60, and their Families
Surviving spouses and orphans of Soldiers who died on active duty or after retirement “The checkbook is unlimited,” explained Olavarria, with recent loans ranging from $150 for food and gas to $10,000 for funeral expenses.
Other financial emergencies that may qualify for these loans include vehicle repairs, medical or dental expenses, rent or utilities and scholarship needs for children, spouses and surviving spouses of Soldiers.
“It’s a great loan, great availability. It keeps you from outside the gate,” Olavarria said.
The program allows a company commander or first sergeant to approve an AER loan for up to $1,500, Olavarria added. The program was piloted at Fort Bragg in 2004 to try to keep Soldiers away from predatory lenders.
In 2012, Fort Bragg dispensed more than $4.7 million in loans. Of that amount, $2.5 million were through the Command Referral Program.
With sufficient lead time, AER personnel are also available to provide unit briefings about the AER mission, said Olavarr ia.
Though AER completed its fundraising goal in June, taking in $479, 543 of its $500,000 goal,
unsolicited donations are accepted any time by mail or online. The program is funded through repayment of AER interestfree loans, investment income, unsolicited contributions and voluntary contr ibutions.
Eighty-nine percent of every dollar contributed goes to help Soldiers and the remaining 11 cents goes to AER administrative and fundraising expenses.
Fort Bragg remains proactive in meeting the needs of its Soldiers and enabling them to maintain readiness. Last month, the installation coordinated with AER National Headquarters personnel as part of a worldwide assessment to see how AER could change with the times, Olavarria said.
Later this year, AER will implement the Netforum program, allowing applicants to begin their application online, but will still maintain due diligence to verify a financial need.
Since its inception, AER has helped more than 3.2 million Soldiers and Family members with more than $1 billion.
Army Emergency Relief is located on the third floor of the Soldier Support Center. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with no applications processed after 4:30 p.m.
For more information, call 396-2507 or 877-272-7337 after duty hours, visit www.fortbraggmwr. com/acs/ar my-emergency- relief/ or like them on Facebook at https://www. facebook. com/ pages/ Fort- Bragg- Financial-Readiness- Program/ 137213639654344.