Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Army Emergency Relief, a 501(c)(3) recently in the news for allegedly "hording cash" and cutting staff, and for receiving a failing grade from the American Institute of Philanthropy, has issued a response to the news reports disputing the accuracy of the report and defending its history of supporting soldiers in times of fianancial distress. I should point out, that I am an Army veteran and my experiences with AER were all positive. Acccording to AER's response:
The recent Associated Press article on AER incorrectly infers that Army Emergency Relief withheld financial assistance from Soldiers and Families during a time of need. The article focused on the following:
“Between 2003 and 2007- as many military Families dealt with long war deployments and increased numbers of home foreclosures – Army Emergency Relief grew into a $345 million behemoth. During those years the charity packed away $117 million into its own reserves while spending just $64 million on direct aid according to an
AP analysis of its tax records”
The facts are as follows:
a. Between 2003 and 2007, Army Emergency Relief distributed a quarter of a billion dollars in financial assistance to 258,000 Soldiers and Families.
b. AER does not hold any funds in reserve. All of our assets less $9 million in restricted accounts and the receivables from interest free loans are available at all times to meet the needs of our Soldiers and their Families.
c. Investment capital available for support to Soldiers and Families today is $190 million. This is fully invested at all times to insure a fair rate of return. Our investment portfolio provides interest and dividends which increases the level of funds available and is a ready resource in borrowing funds to meet requirements for loans and grants in support of emergency financial assistance and scholarships.
d. AER has always met the need for financial assistance. No Soldier or Family member has ever been denied financial assistance for a valid need due to a lack of funds. There is no limit on the amount a Soldier may request and no limit on the number of times a Soldier or Family member can request assistance.
e. To meet the financial needs of those we serve, AER spent every dollar in donations received during that time period plus $51.5 million of investment capital to meet the increased demands of assistance from Soldiers and Their Families.
f. In 2008, AER provided $83 million to 72,000 Soldiers and Families. 24% of that amount was in the form of tax free grants and 76% was for interest free loans. Soldier repayment of interest free loans account for 65% of available funds and provides a cash-flow that is used to respond to future needs by Soldiers and Families.
g. In 2003, children and spouses of Soldiers on active duty and retirees received $3.6 million in scholarships (all grants). In 2008, Army Emergency Relief scholarships increased to $13 million. From 2003 to 2008 the total amount of assistance has steadily grown.
The response also invites readers to download AER's 2007 Annual Report.