When emergencies happen, our lives are sometimes filled with questions, concerns and multiple worries. We become emotionally, physically and financially involved to make ends meet. Although Soldiers and their Families are a strong force, they unfortunately are not free from the emergencies and situations beyond their control.

Army Emergency Relief, a private, non-profit organization dedicated to Soldiers helping Soldiers, is an avenue for them when times get tough. AER, since 1942, strives to provide emergency financial assistance to Soldiers, retirees and their Families in the form of no-interest loans or grants.

AER obtains a large share of the funds necessary to support their missions through donations from the general public and from the Army Family.

“Each year, AER runs an Army-wide campaign that is designed to increase military awareness of the program, to collect funds and to meet the contribution requirements for a nonprofit charity,” said Lynn Olavarria, program manager, Fort Bragg Financial Readiness Program.

The Fort Bragg AER Campaign is ongoing and will run until May 15. “Assistance rendered to Fort Bragg Soldiers in 2011 amounted to over $5 million,” said Olavarria.

Some instances that are covered under the AER program are emergency car repairs, rent/utility expenses, funeral expenses, emergency travels, medical expenses, etc. Soldiers requesting assistance are encouraged to contact the AER office immediately following the emergency, as timeliness is very important for the application.

Soldiers can apply for AER through the Commanders Referral Program or directly through the Fort Bragg Financial Readiness Program office located on the 3rd Floor of the Soldier Support Center.

“Soldiers need not be afraid or worrisome in applying for assistance, it’s about Soldiers helping Soldiers,” said Olavarria. “We can’t have our servicemembers worried about the effects of emergencies on the necessities in life.”

To donate to the AER program, contact your unit campaign manager, call Olavarria at 907- 3410 or visit www.fortbraggmwr.com/acs/army-emergency-relief/.