Fort Hood, Texas – Speaking with leaders, soldiers and family members, Retired Lieutenant General Raymond V. Mason, Director of Military Emergency Relief, visited the establishment not only to inform about the latest programs and initiatives, but more importantly, to listen. The AER is an area of great help for soldiers and their families in Fort Hood.
“The AER is really about combat readiness,” Mason said during a three-day visit June 22-24. “If a soldier and his family are distracted by something in their lives — in many cases it is their finances — that soldier probably does not focus on his or her MOS (military occupational specialty) training, not on the operation of the unit, and we send them to war. And they can pose a danger to their friends and their friends on the right.
“We want the soldiers to go into laser-focused combat, complete their mission and come home safely to their loved ones,” he said. “That’s mission success. AER is just a small part of it, trying to reduce that distraction.
Founded in 1942, AER is a private, nonprofit organization created to assist soldiers and their family members through financial emergencies, including funding for rent, utilities, emergency travel, and more. It provides emergency funds for soldiers orphans and surviving spouses. Undergraduate Scholarship for Spouses and Children of Active and Retired Soldiers.
Today, the AER has helped more than 4 million soldiers and family members with more than $ 2 billion in financial aid, including $ 1 billion since 9/11.
Last year, the AER provided about $ 44.8 million in loans and grants to about 26,000 soldiers and their families.
During his visit, Mason conducted a full series of focus groups, namely, E-4s and lower, middle-class NCOs, senior NCOs, company commanders and first sergeants, luncheon lunches, office calls with senior leaders … Again, just provide information, But more importantly, listen to the field.
“We are here where the rubber road, the tip of the spear, the Fort Hood, the home of the Phantom Corps.
Mason added that one of the main concerns coming out of the Fort Hood visit is not surprising — rent and rent deposit.
He said soldiers should understand what AER is here to help them get out of that hump, especially when they are in or out of PCS.
We are not a silver bullet, but we can facilitate some of the rough edges that soldiers and military families face every day, ”the general said.
Mason said the main concern here is for car repairs and emergency travel, especially emergency leave.
“Emergency travel is probably the most important thing we do for a soldier or his or her spouse,” he said. “Especially during a serious illness, or if God forbid, there will be death in their immediate family, ie, mother, father, brother or sister, and they must return home, be at their bedside, and comfort their family.
“PCS time is when a lot of stress happens,” he said. “AER has a lot of PCS programs to help – things we see at Fort Hood.”
Who, then, deserves it?
Mason says all active-duty soldiers, military families, retired soldiers and their families, medically retired, survivors, active guard reserve or AGR soldiers, and reserve and national guard soldiers are eligible for Title 10 orders if they are on active duty. .
“And we don’t care what rank you are, from general to private,” he said.
“Asking for help is a sign of strength – people come to the army – hey you can do it – you can stand on your own foot – all of this is real, but life happens,” Mason explained. “Sometimes you make a stupid decision – I’ve done a lot in my life – so you go to a tough spot. We don’t want you to leave the post to some payday lander. We want you to come to AER. That payday lender can charge you 20, 40, 300% annual percentage rates. Ours is zero ”
Throughout his tour, the General applauded that the Army was leading the so-called Fort Hood Quick Assist program. Today, about 65% of all cases are commanded by commanders and first sergeants in the installation phase.
“It’s the best in the army,” he said. “Any company commander and first sergeant can approve a $ 2,000 loan with their signature, and you’re knocking it out of the park at Fort Hood.
“It says soldiers want to go to their command chain – and that’s huge,” Mason said. “Through that program, a number of issues are addressed, not just financial problems but daily problems and challenges.
“My hat goes to the commanders of the company and the first sergeants to use it,” he said, “and the soldiers go to their command line. There is nothing more important.”