Fort Sill Launches Army Emergency Relief Campaign | Item



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Fort Sill Garrison Command Sgt. Major Russell Blackwell shows off his AER pledge form which he just completed on March 5, 2021 at the Main Exchange food court. The campaign runs until May 15.
(Photo credit: Fort Sill Tribune staff)




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On March 5, 2021, Army Emergency Relief Service Information Cards and Pledge Forms lay on a table at the Fort Sill Main Exchange Food Court. The campaign starts and runs until May 15.
(Photo credit: Fort Sill Tribune staff)




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Ken Lewis Fort Sill, Financial Readiness Program Manager and Director of the Army Emergency Relief Campaign, chats with a crowd March 5, 2021, at the exchange’s main food court during the kick off of the AER. Lewis said the AER’s goal was to establish 100% contact with the soldiers.
(Photo credit: Fort Sill Tribune staff)


FORT SILL, Oklahoma (March 11, 2021) – The Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill launched their annual Army Emergency Relief (AER) campaign on March 5 at the Main Exchange.

During the Fort Sill Garrison Command Ceremony, Sgt. Major Russell Blackwell signed his engagement form.

“Army emergency relief is only for soldiers helping soldiers, and that includes families and retired soldiers,” Blackwell said. “It’s all through donations; there is no federal funding.

Across the military in 2020, the AER loaned $ 50 million and disbursed $ 10 million in grants, Blackwell said.

Ken Lewis, director of the Fort Sill Army Community Service Financial Readiness program and AER campaign director, said that last year Fort Sill provided more than $ 400,000 in grants and ready.

Ninety cents of every AER dollar goes directly to soldiers, while the remaining 10% is for overhead, Lewis said. “It’s a very good report for a charity.”

“We couldn’t do this without you. Soldiers are REAs, whether active or retired, ”Lewis said.

The AER’s goal is to establish 100% contact with the soldiers, Lewis said. Many soldiers thought the AER had been put on hold due to the pandemic, but it was not. The campaign runs until May 15.

AER grants do not have to be reimbursed. His loans are interest free and the payment schedule is tailored to the soldier’s ability to pay, Lewis said. “The AER has a heart.”

There are about 30 categories approved for AER use, Lewis said.

One of these is emergency family leave involving an immediate family member, and this is automatically a 50% subsidy, and sometimes 100% depending on the circumstances.

“The AER is not a crutch, it won’t affect your promotion or how you are viewed in the military,” Lewis said. “It’s a raised hand, not an outstretched hand.”

AER cannot be used to pay off debts, he added.

One of the AER’s offerings is the Quick Assist program, where first sergeants and commanders can approve up to $ 2,000 in aid for their soldiers, said Daniel Farrell, financial readiness specialist. “They know their soldiers and their needs. We trust leaders to be part of the AER process. “

A new online way to apply for AER is coming, Farrell said. This is called Army Relief Made Simple, or ARMS, where soldiers enter their financial information when they apply for an ARE. It is currently being tested at three large facilities, Lewis said.

And there is another AER program that confidentially supplies soldiers without their commands being involved in the process, Farrell said.

“Coming for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength,” Farrell said. Soldiers who come to the AER will be much better funded than those who go to a payday lender who charges high interest.

“Soldiers who are financially ready are mission ready,” Farrell said. “We want the soldiers to enjoy the benefits of the AER before they have financial problems.”

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