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02/23/2009 10:18 AM ID: 77207 Permalink   

"Support Our Troops" Doesn't Apply to Army


An investigation by the Associated Press has revealed that Army Emergency Relief, the largest charity inside the US military, hoarded $117 million in its reserves while aiding military families to the tune of only $64 million between 2003 and 2007.

The money is meant to help members of the Army in times of crisis. Examples of such emergency aid are covering mortgage payments, food, and medical bills. Though need has increased in recent years, AER said it has not boosted giving.

Of the $64 million doled out, 91% was given as loans, expected to be repaid before a soldier could be promoted or leave service. At the same time, Army members are pressured regularly to contribute by superiors. Very little money was in outright grants.

    WebReporter: Mister crank Show Calling Card      
ASSESS this news: BLOCK this news. Reason:
  The money was collected by a charity..  
yet people have to pay back?

This is a con if ever I heard one!
  by: captainJane     02/23/2009 10:23 AM     
  It's bloody awful.  
One of the big reasons I'm so anti-military is summed up in the article. This thing is a huge scam by the guys at the top to screw the guys at the bottom. On top of everything else that the US military is doing to its poor deluded soldiers, it's also perfecting this system of indentured servitude. There's really no difference between this and the feudal system.

Anyhow, the article is worth a read. There was far too much to sum up in the NewsCreator. Essentially, the AER is an "arm's length" "independent" organization from the army, but it's run within the army, staffed by army personnel. Figure that logic out.

Also from the article; "Most charity watchdogs view 1-to-3 years of reserves as prudent, with more than that considered hoarding. Yet the American Institute of Philanthropy says AER holds enough reserves to last about 12 years at its current level of aid."

When are these guys going to realize that all they're ever going to get is lip service and convenient yellow car magnet ribbons?
  by: Mister crank     02/23/2009 10:36 AM     
  @mister crank  
Yeah, "indentured servitude". That's what I was gonna say.

You can't quit the army until the debt is repaid? That's the definition of "indentured servitude". What makes it worse is that it's a life threatening occupation.

Really pisses me off.
  by: VermiciousG     02/23/2009 02:32 PM     
  I was irritated with it before...  
I'm so angry about this. I mean... I had friends that were in real serious trouble that needed a loan or something so they could get home to their mom's funeral or help paying for daycare when their spouse just decides to leave them. But they were denied aid by this organization. I stopped contributing to them after my first year in the Army. I had no faith in their ability to help me if I needed it. I was better off looking to my family and friends for funds. And it's true about the Army pushing troops for donations. Memorizing info about AER was part of my requirements to pass the board for promotion. "Soldiers helping soldiers", BS.
  by: mandiemarie   02/23/2009 04:56 PM     
This reminds me of a couple of my friends that were in the Army during WWII, they told almost the same story about the Red-Cross. They said the only organization that bent over backwards to help the GI's was the Salvation Army.
  by: Hytekhik   02/23/2009 05:12 PM     
is anyone in trouble over this or is what they are doing legal? i think whoever is in charge of those policies needs life in jail.
  by: koenig32   02/23/2009 05:14 PM     
  @ koenig32  
Nope! That's the kind of country we live in. If the government does it, it isn't illegal.
  by: velger   02/24/2009 02:31 AM     
It's not a government program. It wasn't established by any government agency. It is also not being monitored by any government agency.
  by: VermiciousG     02/24/2009 02:34 AM     
I had similar problems with the US Red Cross many years ago when I needed help. I worked for the Federal government for 6 months and still hadn't received my first pay check. My reserves had run out and I asked the RC for a loan, they refused. They lost any future support I may have sent their way because of it.

It took 9 months and a lawyer to get paid by the government. I'll never work for them again.

I'd be interested to see what the executive directors of this organization are being paid. I'll bet it is obscene.
  by: valkyrie123     02/24/2009 03:36 AM     
  Navy-Marine Corps Relief  
Is a similar charity mentioned in the article. Being a Marine, I can't really comment on the Army's version, but ours is very similar. Once a year, they have a fund-raising push where a senior Marine is tasked with getting "100% contact" asking Marines for donations. The NMCRS gives interest-free loans to cover a whole host of unexpected expenses or financial emergencies. They'll also give up to a $200 loan with no questions asked.

More to the point, asking members to repay the loans is hardly unreasonable. When the loans are repaid, that money can be used to help others who need it (the Army's refusal to issue such loans, notwithstanding).
  by: erasedgod   02/24/2009 03:50 AM     
Well yeah, Being made to repay the loans is one thing. But being made to stay in the army until its repaid?
  by: VermiciousG     02/24/2009 06:38 AM     
  Again People Need To Go To Jail  
The Military officers that held back soldiers from leaving the service for these debts and the people that were in collusion with them at the charity.

It is time to put the UCMJ to some practical use.
  by: ichi     02/24/2009 07:15 AM     
I know that's what the source says the AP found, but I'm still skeptical. If I lose my flak jacket or gas mask or something, I can decline to pay for it if I want to (not without some consequences, of course). I have a hard time believing that soldiers would be stuck in the service (beyond contractual obligations) for a couple hundred dollar loan.

Some of the other claims are dubious as well:

"Despite strict rules against coercion, the Army uses pushy tactics to extract supposedly voluntary contributions, with superiors using language like: 'How much can we count on from you?'"

Yeah, that sure is some scary language... if only these were grown men and women...

"The Army sometimes offers rewards for contributions, though incentives are banned by program rules. It sometimes excuses contributors from physical training — another clear violation."

That would come down to individual units and have nothing to do with the AER at all. If someone is breaking that rule, it shouldn't reflect on the program.

"AER screens every request for aid, peering into the personal finances of its troops, essentially making the Army a soldier's boss and loan officer."

Yeah, and it's a really good idea. The charity has no place giving money to people who don't actually need it. Marines are required to attend financial counseling and complete a budget in order to get such a loan.

"If I ask a private for something ... chances are everyone's going to do it. Why? Because I'm a lieutenant," says Iraq war veteran Tom Tarantino, otherwise an AER backer. "It can almost be construed as mandatory."

No, it can't. This Lt is definitely over-estimating his influence. You know the difference between a 2ndLt and a PFC? The PFC has been promoted.

"...admits he gave to AER partly to be excused from push-ups, sit-ups and running the next day. For those who didn't contribute the minimum monthly allotment, the calisthenics became, in effect, a punishment."

The minimum allotment is one dollar. "Allotment" in this case means the money is authorized by the member to be taken from his / her pay before he / she even sees the money. As for PT being punishment, it's the military. You get paid to PT. Suck it up.

It seems to me that the only really questionable things here are the much larger Army charity barely giving more than the much smaller Air Force and Navy programs while keeping so much in reserve and investments. I want to apologize for the novel that I'm sure is this post.
  by: erasedgod   02/24/2009 08:24 AM     
Yeah. It lacks sub-text.
  by: VermiciousG     02/24/2009 02:33 PM     
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