Monday, February 23, 2009

Army charity fund is hoarding millions, AP reports

"From 2003 to 2007 — while military families dealt with long deployments and more home foreclosures — Army Emergency Relief grew into a $345 million behemoth," reports Jeff Donn of The Associated Press. "During those years, the charity put $117 million into its reserves while spending only $64 million on direct aid, according to an AP analysis of its tax records." This impacts rural families especially hard since Army recruitment draws disproportionately from rural areas.

The nonprofit organization has, for the most part, been funded by troops. Donn writes that the program "allows superiors to squeeze soldiers for contributions; forces struggling soldiers to repay loans, sometimes delaying transfers and promotions; and has violated its own rules by rewarding donors with such things as free passes from physical training."

The program, started in 1942, was design to ease the financial difficulties "of active-duty soldiers and retirees and provides college scholarships for their families," adds Donn. "Its emergency aid covers mortgage payments and food, car repairs, medical bills, travel to family funerals and the like." The latest recession surely represents an emergency for many soldiers.

AP found that instead of giving money to soldiers, "the Army charity lent 91 percent of its emergency aid during 2003-07," writes Donn. "Smaller civilian charities for service members and veterans say they are swamped by the needs of recent years, with requests far outstripping their ability to respond." (Read more)

1 comment:

Downrange student said...

I am currently an AC officer who has support AER my entire career. I was concerned about the new findings of funds not being granted to Soldiers in the time of need. However, as leaders, we must ensure our Soldiers act accordingly and accept responsibility if he/she are not managing their finances properly. It is not uncommon for the average PVT to SPC to have a four house hold family. Of course, education is the key, but leadership is the main ingredient for ensuring our Soldiers and their families are taken care of. If this fails to happen, how do we expect them to focus on the mission in combat?? How do we expect loyal officers such as me to continue to support the program, if there is uncertainty for using the funds as they were intended to be used? Thoughts or comments from the field.