By Paul Lara, Belvoir Eagle
Fort Belvoir Army Community Services is in the final phase of re-opening its Army Emergency Relief Office, and needs your help in boosting contributions to this vital program, according to Madeline Pastorella, the new AER officer, who has 12 years of experience in seeing how AER changes lives.
“I’ve had homeless, medically retired folks who don’t have a place to live, but they didn’t have the first months rent, they came to AER, asking ‘can you help me?’” Pastorella said. “I then got on the phone to find a room for the night until we got it resolved. During Superstorm Sandy, when Service members lost all their uniforms, AER was there to replace them.”
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston agrees that AER is a lifeline when tragedy strikes.
“Army Emergency Relief is about Soldiers helping Soldiers, and that’s what we do in my squad. As the only non-profit that’s 100% focused on our Army, AER provided $70M to over
40,000 Soldiers and families,” Grinston said in a promotional video. “For 77 years, AER has helped with auto repair, PCS moves, and more. AER helps our Army keep people first.”
“It’s more than what people understand,” stressed Pastorella. “During the COVID pandemic, they were able to help with computers, educational materials, helping out with immigration for someone’s spouse to get a permanent resident card – it’s about so much more than funeral costs and car repair. They can always come into AER for assistance, because we find ways to help the Soldier.”
Pastorella said the new office is reaching out to units in the area, to raise awareness that AER is back on post, and said that there are new categories of assistance.
“In my experience as an AER officer, I’ve met with widows, retirees and Service members who lost a family member, but when you’re sitting across from someone asking for assistance, it’s sometimes hard to ask for help. AER is not a band-aid; we’re here to help you through it. We want to be sure they’re not back again with the same problem later.”
You can make a one-time donation online with credit, PayPal or EFT, and active duty and retired Soldiers can donate by payroll allotment as approved by Defense Finance and Accounting Service.
The AER office is located at 5965 6th Street, Room 129, or you can call 571-231-7025.
To donate to AER, go to armyemergencyrelief.org/donate.