Do you know how the Army Emergency Relief program can help with unexpected expenses? Are you a soldier in need of financial help? We have information about six ways you or your family might qualify for the Army Emergency Relief program!
What is the Army Emergency Relief program?
The Army Emergency Relief program is a way to help Army service members and their families obtain timely financial assistance. The financial assistance may be through grants or zero-interest loans. There are six ways that the Army Emergency Relief program can provide resources to families in need: Quick Assist Program, Wounded Warrior Assistance Program, Wounded Warrior Comfort Grants, Survivor Assistance, Educational Scholarships, and Child Care Assistance. We’ll cover how these programs work!
Quick Assist Program
The Quick Assist Program, like its name suggests, is the fastest and most direct way to obtain help from the Army Emergency Relief program. Eligible servicemembers can request assistance directly through their chain of command. Company commanders and first sergeants are able to approve up to $2,000 in financial assistance. In 2021, over $10 million in assistance was awarded to soldiers through their chain of command!
Wounded Warrior Assistance Program
Wounded Warriors are able to receive personal access to Army Emergency Relief program help. Wounded Warriors can visit an on-base military aid office within 50 miles, contact their Army Wounded Warrior (AW2) Program advocate, or the Army Emergency Relief program headquarters.
Wounded Warrior Comfort Grants
The Army Emergency Relief program provides immediate financial assistance to servicemembers who are medically evacuated from hostile fire or imminent danger areas. This includes peacekeeping operations or training exercises in the contiguous United States. Upon hospitalization, a $1,000 Wounded Warrior Comfort Grant is issued. Over $3 million in comfort grants have been issued to date.
The Army Emergency Relief program may be able to help provide financial assistance for surviving spouses and children of active and retired soldiers who have been killed. This may be in the form of grants for specific requests, or possible monthly assistance for those in severe financial need.
Did you know that the Army Emergency Relief program provides over $8 million in educational scholarships for service member families every year? Spouses and children of active and retired servicemembers may be eligible and must reapply every year.
Scholarships are for recipients pursuing their first undergraduate degree (some exceptions for spouse applicants). The college, university, or trade school must be listed in the US Department of Education’s accreditation database.
The scholarship amounts vary depending on number of applicants and budget. The award amounts are paid directly to the academic program listed on the application. The funds may be used for tuition, books, supplies, and fees. For scholarships awarded to children of servicemembers, the funds may also go toward room and board costs. Most scholarship funds are tax-free, except those used to pay for room and board.
Mrs. Patty Shinseki Spouse Scholarship Program
The Mrs. Patty Shinseki Spouse Scholarship Program helps spouses receive financial assistance for up to four years of full-time academic study, or eight years of part-time study. These are for pursuit of an undergraduate degree or professional certification.
Major General James Ursano Scholarship for Military Children
The Major General James Ursano Scholarship for Military Children may help provide financial assistance for qualified children of servicemembers pursuing a four year academic program. Applicants must be unmarried and under 24-years old.
Who may qualify for educational scholarships?
Spouses and children must be are listed as dependents of their soldier sponsor in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting (DEER) System.
The servicemember sponsor eligible statuses:
- active duty
- deceased active
- deceased retired
- medically retired
- Grey Area retiree
- Active Guard Reserve on Title 10 Orders for entire academic year
- United States Army Reserve on Title 10 Orders for entire academic year
Child Care Assistance
If your family is enrolled in the Army Fee Assistance program, you may be eligible for up to $500 for three months ($1,500 total) in child care assistance funds from the Army Emergency Relief program. Applicants need to demonstrate a valid need for childcare assistance funds through completion of a budget.
What items may be covered by the Army Emergency Relief program?
- mortgage or rent
- temporary lodging
- basic furniture
- vehicle costs
- home repairs
- healthcare not covered by TRICARE
- dental care for dependents
- special needs medical equipment
- cranial helmets
- child carseats
- spouse relicensing and recertification
- Permanent Change of Station (PCS) travel
- immigration and passport fees for dependents
- emergency travel
- Invitational travel order (for training)
- non-medical attendant travel
- natural disaster preparation & evacuation
- funeral expenses
And more! Your Army Emergency Relief program officer will know if your needs qualify!
What expenses are NOT covered by the Army Emergency Relief program?
- Overdraft fees
- Business investments
- Court/legal fees (except to prevent immediate severe hardship to family)
- Income taxes (except to prevent immediate severe hardship to family)
- Vacation or ordinary leave
- Privately owned vehicles
- Convenience/comfort/luxury items
- Travel of family to overseas commands
- Education expenses (scholarship program in lieu of zero-interest education loans)
Some exceptions may apply – your Army Emergency Relief program officer will know more!
Who is eligible for Army Emergency Relief program assistance?
The below categories and their eligible dependents may qualify for help!
- Active duty soldiers
- Army Reserve activated with Title 10 order for 30+ days
- National Guard Soldiers activated with Title 10 order for 30+ days
- Servicemembers retired for medical, longevity, or at 60 years old (reserve)
- Children of soldiers who died in active duty or after reaching retirement eligibility
- Spouses of soldiers who died in active duty or after reaching retirement eligibility (if they have not remarried)
Is there a limit to how much assistance I can receive?
There is no limit to Army Emergency Relief program assistance; however the most common terms are $1,500 for a 15-month zero-interest loan. All loans through the Army Emergency Relief program are interest free and without late fees. There is a $3,000 limit to the total of loans open at any given time.
How do I request help from the Army Emergency Relief program?
The first step is to make your chain of command aware of your need for assistance. They are the initial point of contact for emergency grants and loans. Army Emergency Relief program officers are stationed at military base aid offices. If one is not local to you, you may contact the program via the Army Emergency Relief website, or at 866-878-6378.
The Red Cross is also authorized to help with Army Emergency Relief program requests if there is no Army Emergency Relief program office within 50 miles. The Red Cross may be reached at 877-272-7337.
Can my family request help if I’m unable to?
A spouse or eligible dependent may be able to request help from the Army Emergency Relief program if the service member is not available. These may include times of deployment or temporary duty travel.
This also applies to retired soldiers working outside primary family residence area and is unavailable due to hospitalization, incarceration, or another legitimate reason that would keep them from being able to contact the Army Emergency Relief program directly.
How do I request help if my soldier is not available?
A Special Power of Attorney (SPOA) from your servicemember may give authority to request assistance from the Army Emergency Relief program on the soldier’s behalf.
An Account Allotment and Authorization Form (AER Form 55) may be issued by the local Army Emergency Relief program officer for one-time authorization for a spouse or eligible dependent to request assistance. The form will be emailed directly to the servicemember for signature.
An email from the servicemember’s official military email account that indicates agreement with the terms of assistance, amount, and repayment (if applicable) may authorize a request to the Army Emergency Relief program. The email must come from the .mil military email address, not a personal email address.
Can I donate to the Army Emergency Relief program?
Yes! The Army Emergency Relief program is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charity and donations may be tax-deductible! The Charity Navigator lists them as a Four Star Charity!
We’ve covered six ways the Army Emergency Relief program helps soldiers and their families. We have more military assistance resources for Army families as well as servicemembers from all branches!