Kaiserslautern prepares for emergency relief campaign

Christine June
U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern

***image1***Staff Sgt. William Marin and Sgt. John Kehborn are ready for the U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern’s 2007 Army Emergency Relief Campaign, which starts March 26.

This is the first year that Staff Sergeant Marin, from the 37th Transportation Command, will be the key person and Sergeant Kehborn, from the 5th Quartermaster Company, will be an alternate. They attended training for AER key persons and alternates hosted by the garrison last week.

“I’m looking forward to getting 100 percent (contribution) from my unit in order to help out with the AER campaign,” said Staff Sergeant Marin.

There are about 60 key persons and alternates for more than 40 Army units in the KMC, said Roy Bolton, the garrison’s Financial Readiness Program manager and AER officer.

Dedicated to “Helping the Army Take Care of Its Own,” AER is the Army’s emergency financial assistance organization providing assistance to active-duty and retired Soldiers and their families when there is a valid need, said Mr. Bolton.

“It’s Soldiers helping Soldiers,” said Gwen Galloway, the garrison’s AER assistant. “Soldiers who contribute add to a fund that goes solely to helping Soldiers in times of financial hardship.”

The Kaiserslautern’s AER Campaign ends May 11. Last year, the garrison raised $41,000 for the AER organization, which gave close to $520,000 in assistance to the KMC, said Mr. Bolton. This year’s goal is to raise a little more than $45,000, said Mrs. Galloway.

“The AER Campaign is like a rally call to let Soldiers know we once again need their help so they can help each other in times of emergency financial need,” said Mrs. Galloway.

According to the AER’s official Web site, assistance helps active-duty Soldiers and their dependents; Soldiers of the Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve on continuous active duty for more than 30 days and their dependents; Soldiers retired from active-duty or Reserves and their dependents; and, widows (ers) and orphans of Soldiers who died while on active-duty or after they retired.

“I feel that you can pay now as a Soldier or you can pay later,” said Lt. Col. Mechelle Hale, the garrison’s commander. “Meaning if a Soldier is not functional at work then the command is not functional so you can pay now by contributing to AER or you can pay later when you have a Soldier who is in need and can’t get assistance.”

Assistance provided by AER is through an interest-free loan, a grant, which is an outright gift of funds, if repayment will cause undue hardship, or part-loan and grant, also from the AER official Web site.

Bolton said this is the first year that the garrison will start the campaign with an AER Kick-off Breakfast 7 to 9 a.m. Monday at the Kaiserslautern Community Activities Center on Daenner Kaserne. Tickets can be purchased from unit key persons and alternates or by calling Mr. Bolton or Mrs. Galloway at 489-7063.

For more information on AER, visit the official Web site at www.aerhq.org.