Army Emergency Relief revised eligibility requirements to extend financial assistance to non-Title 10 soldiers impacted by COVID-19.
Relief organizations typically require clients from the National Guard or reserves to be under Title 10 in order to qualify for assistance. AER recognizes the unique circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic — including the widespread financial impact on military families — leading to a waiver for certain requirements, on a case-by-case basis.
“When there are disasters that occur, we frequently put exceptions in place. If they are in that (bad financial) situation, we are going to help them,” retired Lt. Gen. Raymond Mason, director of AER, said.
Mason went on to explain the member must go through the normal process and take their request through their chain of command. This is something that can be difficult for some military members, as pride or fear of reprimand can get in the way of asking for help. Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael A. Grinston has a message for them.
“AER is about soldiers helping soldiers in their time of need, and this is no different. COVID-19 may present some challenges for our Regular Army, National Guard and reserve component soldiers and their families — they need to know that it’s OK to reach out and ask for help when they need it. That’s one of the best parts of being in our Army, you should always be able to count on the people to your left and right to be there for you,” Grinston said.
It’s critical that leaders are aware of the possible needs of soldiers and their families during this time. The goal is to build awareness of this assistance before financial crisis occurs, since the effects of coronavirus pandemic could span not just weeks — but months.
“If you know your squad really well and truly care about them, then you know when something’s off. NCOs at the SGT, SSG and SFC levels are the connection between our soldiers and the rest of the Army. They work with soldiers every day. Good NCOs and good leaders in general know when it’s time to sit down and talk with their soldiers,” Grinston said.
AER and other branch aid societies exist to support the military and their families yearround. This pandemic is another example of how organizations intend to be there to support those in need. On average, AER distributes roughly $70 million dollars annually to 40,000 soldiers and families. There are over 30 different categories of financial assistance. Once approved for assistance, the money is electronically transferred immediately.
Although the relief organization is focused on supporting the Army, any military member can call or walk into their offices for support. AER, in turn, may contact the service member’s respective branch-specific relief organization and follow their guidelines. Mason shared that all relief agencies work closely together with the common goal of being there for those in need.
There is also no minimum or maximum dollar amount for assistance for soldiers, their families, and surviving spouses who have not remarried. Each application is evaluated based on demonstrated need.
How to apply
According to the AER website, for non-Title 10 Army National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers experiencing hardship from COVID-19, such as unusual financial hardship due to a canceled deployment or the current DOD travel ban, notify your field grade officer or command sergeant major in the chain of command of your intent to submit an assistance application and request a DOD SAFE secure document upload link. Visit https://www.armyemergencyrelief.org/covid19/nontitle10reserve/ for additional steps in the application process.
“To the soldiers and families who are feeling the financial impact of this virus — your chain of command, the Army and AER are here to help. Don’t be afraid to step up and talk about it. We’ve got your back. I’ve got your back,” Grinston added.