Fort Jackson Public Affairs
If a Soldier or their Family needs financial help Army Emergency Relief is there to help, but turning to GoFundMe pages or soliciting donations could land them in hot water, Fort Jackson legal officials said.
“Solicitation based on one's official position (status as a Soldier) is prohibited under the ethics rules,” wrote Robert “Jeff” Barham, Ethics Counselor with Fort Jackson’s Office of the Staff Judge Advocate. “Neither Fort Jackson nor the Soldiers concerned should be soliciting donations from the community …”
On top of that, crowdsourcing donations through sites like “GoFundMe” can raise problems because subordinates may make donations or the money may come from prohibited sources.
Maj. Krista Bartolomucci, Fort Jackson’s chief of administrative law, said, the use of a “GoFundMe-type fundraising is problematic under “the government ethics rules because the Soldier will know or have reason to know that the donating group includes an employee receiving less pay or a subordinate.”
As a general rule, a Soldier may not accept a gift from an employee receiving less pay unless an exception applies. There is a “Special Infrequent Occasion Exception" that may apply where a Soldier may accept gifts from a donating group that includes a gift from an employee receiving less pay.
“However, if the donating group includes a subordinate, then the total value of the gift from that particular gift giving group may not exceed a market value of $300,” Bartolomucci said.
As long as the donating group does not include a subordinate, there is no $300 limitation.
If the donating groups have no common members, multiple donating groups can contribute separate gifts, but they are still subject to the $300 market value limitation if the groups include any subordinate donors.
If a Soldier or Family member needs financial help they can go to existing places such as AER and the lending closet.
AER provides zero interest loans and grants, said Wanda Redd, Army Community Services’ AER specialist.
“Military aid organizations are so important when service members find themselves in need of emergency assistance,” she said. “Army Emergency Relief fills that vital role for Army Families by providing both grants and zero interest loans when Soldiers or their Families are faced with financial or family emergencies.”
Under Army Regulation 930-4, AER provides emergency financial assistance in the form of a non-interest bearing loan, grant, or a combination of the two.
Those eligible for AER assistance are Soldiers on active duty and their dependents; members of the Army National Guard and Army Reserve on Title 10 orders for more than 30 days and their eligible dependents; Soldiers retired for longevity, medical, or upon reaching age 60 (Reserves) and their eligible dependents; and surviving spouses who have not remarried and children of Soldiers who died on active duty or died after reaching retirement eligibility.
“The Army continues to count on AER to assist our Service Members and their Families in meeting their unexpected needs,” Redd added. “Please contact ACS for AER assistance at 751-5256 to speak to an AER Specialist today.”
AER is located on Fort Jackson in the ACS Building at 9810 Lee Road.