FORT BRAGG — Fort Bragg soldiers are often called to help strangers in times of need, especially after natural disasters, but they also help other soldiers. In fact, they raised a ton of money for soldiers struggling to be all they can be.
Soldiers train and fight together, but they also come together to help fellow soldiers in need. A soldier may have to fly home for a funeral or get their car fixed, which is where the Army Emergency Relief Fund (AER) plays an important role.
This year at Fort Bragg, more than 21,000 soldiers pledged nearly $500,000 to the fund.
"Emergencies arise in the lives of soldiers, and sometimes there aren't funds to meet the emergency," says Rick Dilkins, director of Army Community Services.
At a luncheon Wednesday afternoon, Fort Bragg is bragging about the enormous outpouring of donations.
"It feels good to do that. To know that it's actually contributing to someone you work with, and who supports their country just like you do," says contributor Lakeisha Fox.
Depending on your ability to pay the money back, the fund can work as a grant or interest-free loan.
Specialist Rhonda Loy was living in a hotel for $800 a month because her family could not afford a deposit to rent a house. She is now in a home and paying the money back over six months.
"It's like your brothers and sisters helping you out," she says. "If it hadn't been for AER, I probably would still be living in a hotel room."
This is the 60th year for the Army Emergency Relief Fund. Last year, the fund at Fort Bragg provided nearly $2 million in relief to almost 3,000 military families.