Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The AER fiasco

I can't help but weigh in on this.

Asshat Jeff Donn published an article for AP that grossly mischaracterizes one of the Army's best programs; AER. The Army Emergency Relief fund is a fantastic charity. Where else can you get an interest free loan?

I have personally known several folks who benefitted from this program.

I remember when I was a soldier and AER fundraising was going on. There were incentives to donate. I rememebr tha tif our entire troop donated, we'd get a weekend pass. pretty cool. Of course, if you didn't want to donate, that waas always your call.

Let's put things into perspective here. the articla is basically trashing the AER for multiple transgressions. Firstly hoarding.

Ok, AER never denies a soldier a loan or a grant provided their eligible to receive the aid. In other words, dire need. That's why it's called 'Emergency Relief". In fact the numbers basically prove that. The fact that they have plenty of reserve money most made through investing doantion money shows they'e pretty smart fiscally and the program will not dry up due to overspending. There's also another possibility that noone seems to have looked at. Or even considered. maybe the soldiers and their families have become more fiscally responsible themselves and don't need as much aid. just a thought, probably not the case, but still...

So then there are these stories of soldiers being denied aid, and soldiers being pressured to contribute and all that jazz. Folks, let me explain something to you here. The Army is not the same as civilian life. In order for a unit to have good cohesion and in order for a given company or troop to be willing to die for any other one in the group, something has to fundamentally change about their relationship with their "co-workers" I doubt any of you civvies out there would jump on a grenade for their coworker in the next cubicle. AER is something the Army does for the Army. And when I say that I mean it in the most extreme sense. "Soldiers taking care of soldiers". That is the essence of AER. If you're appalled by any attempts to get troops to contribute to a cause that they amy have to draw on in the future, then you obviously have no f**king clue. These drives are just one part of making the soldiers realize what being a soldier is about. the Army has a values system, I generally disregard alot of the propaganda because the "Army Values" were values I already hold dear. No big deal. But not everyone who enters the service is on the same page, so to speak. They try their damndest to mold soldiers into good citizens as well as good soldiers.

The Army isn't perfect, but they're sight better than the alot of civilian agencies.
I'm going to include some links here for you.

The misleading report on AER.
AER's rebuttal

Hat tip to Denizens of Castle Argghhh!



Anonymous said...

All is not as rosy as you remember it. That is the great thing about nostalgia.
In 1992 I applied for AER as a young E1 so I could return home and attend the funeral of an immediate family member. I was denied for various reasons, but mainly because I had only been in the military for 4 months at the time. For some reason they seemed to think that the $700 I made a month (yes, the whole month) was enough to cover all of my bills AND pay for round-trip transatlantic airfare on short notice. Let me tell you now, it did not – the air fare on that short notice, from Germany to Colorado cost well over $1K. I ended up getting a loan through the Red Cross (interest free).
The strong arm tactics used by leaders to get their Soldiers to contribute are heinous. I know because I have been subject to them for over 16 years now. AER fundraising isn’t any better than NCOAA membership drives at places like FT Bragg. If you DON’T contribute or join, then you are subject to penalization by your entire chain of command. It is amazing how you can end up on every duty roster in the unit when you don’t donate. Nothing builds camaraderie and unit cohesion like being punished for not contributing to an organization that wouldn’t help you when you desperately needed it.
Please don’t tell me I don’t have a F&*#@ing clue because I disagree on your point of view. Not only is it insulting to me, but it shows a lack of tolerance on your part. It also indicates that you approve of the strong arm tactics that are used to separate young Soldiers from their money. The Army doing things for the Army is great, but the monies should come from the senior leader ranks (SSG/E6 and above), not the junior Soldiers. And there should be no pressure on the Soldier to contribute. However you and I both know that this will never be the case 100% of the time.
There were accuracies in the news article. Notice that they were broad, general, sweeping statements. Take it for what it is worth, just an article showing some of the symptoms of a system that could stand to be overhauled. Has it done some good? Absolutely? Has it failed some people? Without question.
All this article did was make public some of the failings of the program. Let it go.

Fafnir's Hangnail

Mjolnir said...

Fair enough...I know nothing in the Army is perfect. And, I understand your position. I don't agree with strong-arm tactics to separate young soldiers from their money. That was not my point, but oh well. I do agree with incentives. And you know me well enough to know That I know, that YOU do have a f&@!king clue. That comment was not really targeted at people like yourself, if you catch my meaning. I happen to know several folks that don't have a f&%@!king clue about what being a soldier is like and they won't ever. I've had arguments with some people, close friends in fact, that don't understand the whole comaraderie thing as it occurs in a good combat arms unit. No amount of explaining can make them understand. That was where that comment came from, my apologies if it was offensive to you.

Anywho, thanks for sharing your story and severely beating my commentary about the head and neck....hahaha.

It's good to see you back...been a long time.