Financial relief program helps soldiers in emergencies - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Financial relief program helps soldiers in emergencies

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“Soldiers helping soldiers” and “Never leave a soldier behind” are the themes of one non-profit organization.

The sole mission of Army Emergency Relief (AER) is to help military personnel during a financial crisis.

WAFF sat down with one soldier who got the help he needed through the organization.

“Military life can be difficult enough without having to worry about financial issues,” said Sergeant Joshua King.

Sergeant King, a husband and father of three children, works on Redstone Arsenal. A few years ago, his family found itself in a couple of emergencies.

“I had two vehicles numerous years apart that had transmission issues… Transmissions are an expensive part of maintenance on a vehicle,” said Sergeant King.

He was told to take his situation to AER. 

“When I mentioned to command team and my NCOs that I had a problem, that was the first place they told me to go,” said Sergeant King.

AER is a private non-profit organization that provides emergency financial help to soldiers and their families. One way AER does that is with interest-free loans to soldiers. They also can provide grants and soldiers can apply to scholarships.

Sergeant King’s family went to AER twice in five years for car trouble and, both times, AER got them much needed help.

“It was very smooth. Without that help you would not have been able to maintain those two vehicles that we needed in order to make life happen in my household,” said Sergeant King.

“It’s not an army program because it is non-profit. The dollars donated from soldiers for soldiers. So it’s all about the army taking care of their own,” said Kathleen Riester, the AER officer on Redstone Arsenal.

She explained, AER is not a government funded program. All the money comes either from donations, specifically from other soldiers, or contributions from businesses. At Redstone, Riester said the community usually helps out the local program with no questions asked.

“We have a lot of support through businesses here that like to contribute and donations to AER. So the Huntsville community and North Alabama region, in general, are very generous to AER campaign because many of them are in some way involved with the Army and they want to give back,” said Riester.

Riester even recruits soldiers, like 1st Sergeant Lee Anthony Dalton, to be coordinators and be a familiar face to others in the same uniform needing help.

“It  gets more soldiers involved when they see the green suiters out and pushing the program, giving them the knowledge they need. They are more encouraged to give the contributions because they’ve got a soldier discussing with them,” said 1st Sergeant Dalton.

After Sergeant King’s family emergencies, he now gives to the program to help other soldiers when they have an emergency too.

“They can help me and I can help them. I would urge anybody to check out this program for themselves,” said Sergeant King.

AER is celebrating 75 years of helping soldiers this year. Their fundraising campaign kicked off at the beginning of this month and will run through May 15th.

If you want to donate or need financial help through AER, the organization now has the forms to fill out online, which is a new launch this year.

Click here https://www.aerhq.org/ for more information or call Kathleen Riester at Redstone Arsenal ACS office at 256.842.8541.

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