PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. - Picatinny Arsenal's 2012 Army Emergency Relief (AER) campaign exceeded the $50,000 goal set by the installation's campaign officials.
The campaign, which kicked off March 1 with the annual Chili Cook-Off raising $884 in just an hour and a half, concluded yesterday with the annual Duck Derby, which raised $8,818.
AER is a private nonprofit organizations incorporated in 1942 by the Secretary of War and the Army Chief of Staff. The mission has not changed since its inception: to provide emergency financial assistance to Soldiers and their families.
Checks are still arriving, but as of the close of business yesterday, $52,931.61 was raised.
According to Tammy Mitchell, Director of Picatinny's Army Community Service Directorate, the Picatinny AER fund does not limit its assistance to Army personnel.
"We have helped not just Soldiers, but Marines too," she said. The assistance does not stop there. Any active-duty service member, regardless of branch of service, can apply for assistance. This assistance is also available to retired military personnel.
Two other major events that contributed to this year's success were a tricky tray raffle, which brought in $3,455 and a chicken-wing eating contest that raised $3,333.40.
More than $79,000 was raised during the 2011 AER campaign at Picatinny Arsenal, the most the installation has ever raised for the cause.
Of that amount, $69,372.90 was disbursed locally to assist military service members and their families as situations requiring assistance arose.
Funds provide assistance in a variety of situations: unexpected funeral expenses, travel, such as in a permanent change of duty station, groceries, utility bills, and overdue car and or rent/mortgage payments.
For every dollar contributed to the AER Fund, 89 cents goes to help service members and their dependents. AER administrative and fundraising expenses cost 11 cents per dollar.
Since AER was established in 1942, the program has helped more than 3.2 million Soldiers and family members with more than $1 billion
Any loans provided are made without interest, in contrast to loans from financial institutions.
Mitchell said that her office can approve up to $3,000 locally. Larger amounts require approval from a higher authority.
All first-term service members are now required to take financial training courses. Yet that does not mean that other services members always have a firm financial footing.
In calendar year 2011, the Picatinny AER team provided 49 loans. Only three of those loans were to service members ranked E-3 and below. The majority of loans were to service members with 10 or more years in the military.
Army Emergency Relief also offers grants for persons without the means of paying back a loan. However, proof of financial hardship must be documented.
The program also provides two spouse scholarships as well as the Maj. Gen. James Ursano Scholarship Program for dependent children. You can learn more about these scholarships at
Additional Benefits include:
- Support for surviving Families of Soldiers who die on active duty
- Grants for wounded Soldiers medically evacuated from a theater of combat
- Personal Financial Management Training for Soldiers in Army Advanced Individual Training (AIT)
AER will not provide funds for nonessential purposes, such as financing a vacation, paying legal fines or expenses, debt consolidation, vehicle purchases, home improvements, credit card debt or cosmetic surgery.