AER campaign in full swing

USAG Wiesbaden Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Chad Pinkston, 2nd Theater Signal Bde. Command Sgt. Maj. Gregory Rowland, AER officer Danna Butterfield, and 66th MI Bde. Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Matthews cut the cake March 1 at the Community Activity Center during the kick-off of the 2018 AER campaign.

Garrison leadership kicked off the Army Emergency Relief campaign March 1 by sharing their personal experiences with unit leadership from across post.

I’m very passionate about the AER program,” said U.S. Army Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Chad Pinkston. “When I lost my grandfather as a young specialist, it was the only way I could get my Family home. This program has absolutely impacted my life.”

USAG Commander Col. Todd J. Fish recalled using an AER loan after a short-notice move from Germany back to the states, followed by vehicle problems and a Family emergency.
When Fish used AER in 1987, it was recommended to him by his platoon sergeant. Spreading the word about AER programs – especially through the junior leadership – was a key take away from the speakers at the annual kick-off breakfast.

After a 10-question true and false quiz, guest speaker, retired Col. Eldon Mullis, the AER chief operating officer, highlighted the three points he wanted leaders to leave with. First, never leave a Soldier behind, Mullis said. While the tenet was meant for the battlefield, it applies in garrison, as well. If Soldiers are having financial problems, take them to Army Community Service.

Mullis also highlighted the Commander’s Referral Program, which allows company commanders and first sergeants to quickly authorize no-interest loans of up to $2,000 for their Soldiers.

Mullis’ second point was to spread the word and talk about AER. And lastly, Mullis said, “AER is your organization … It was started by our grandfathers, our great grandfathers, just at the beginning of World War II. We need to keep giving so the Soldiers who come after us can do what they need to do.”

Giving in the past years has declined. In 2013, approximately 100,000 Soldiers donated to the campaign. In 2017, that number was down to less than 50,000, or less than 10 percent of the Soldiers in the Army.
“There has been a slump the last five years on donations and raising enough,” Fish said. “This money goes to our Soldiers; this money helps our Families. We need to invest in it.”

Visit for more information on AER eligibility and programs, or stop by ACS and visit with Danna Butterfield, USAG Wiesbaden AER officer.







AER trivia

During the AER kick-off, Eldon Mullis, AER’s chief operating officer, asked the audience 10 true or false questions:

              1. Army Emergency Relief helps active duty Soldiers, but it does not help spouses or children.

                • FALSE
                Spouses can get help from AER if their Soldier is in the same location or not. A special power of attorney form is available on the AER website at, or by going to the AER office.

                “It doesn’t matter if the soldier is in Poland, in Afghanistan, back in the states TDY, the spouse can come in and get assistance. And if the spouse is back in the states where can they go?” Mullis asked.
                Soldiers and eligible dependents can go to the closest Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine or Coast Guard base because AER has reciprocal agreements with the other services’ relief programs. If not close to a military base, call the Red Cross Military Hotline to request AER assistance.

              2. Retired Soldiers and their dependents can use AER.

                • TRUE
                This also includes medically retired Soldiers.

              3. The No. 1 reason Soldiers come to AER is for help with emergency travel.

                • FALSE
                Rent is the No. 1 reason Soldiers come to AER, which helped 14,000 Soldiers pay their rent in 2017. The other reasons Soldiers come to AER in order of use are for help paying for utilities, car repairs, emergency travel and nation disaster recovery. Last year, AER helped around 2,000 recover from hurricanes in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

              4. Company commanders and first sergeants can approve loans for up to $2,000.

                • TRUE

                Staff Sgt. James Jackson speaks to unit leaders March 1 at the AER campaign kick-off about his experience using AER. In fiscal year 2017, Soldiers at USAG Wiesbaden received $125,727.94 in grants.

              5. AER helps Soldiers downrange.

                • FALSE
                If a Soldier is injured downrange, when they get to Landstuhl or a state-side hospital, AER will provide them with a grant in the form of a $1,000 debit card they can use for whatever they may need

              6.  Surviving spouses and children can get help from AER.

                • TRUE

              7. AER gives college scholarships to Soldiers.

                • FALSE
                Scholarships are open to spouses and children. Spouses may apply any time after Jan. 1 for the upcoming academic year. Dependent applications are accepted through April 2. Applications for both can be found at

              8. AER gets its funding from the Army.

                • FALSE
                AER is funded solely by donations, which have been going down each year since 2008. “We want to turn the curve to get it up again,” Mullis said.

              9. Less than 10 percent of Soldiers in the Army today – of all ranks – donate to AER.

                • TRUE
                The Army has 475,000 Soldiers, of which less than 10 percent donated last year. In 2013, 100,000 Soldiers gave, compared to last year when only 47,000.

              10. The average interest rate for a pay-day lender loan is between 300 and 400% interest.

                • TRUE
                A Department of Defense survey showed 30 percent of Soldiers who used payday loan companies in an emergency didn’t know they had any
                other options. The interest on an AER loan is 0 percent.