Mark Ramsey, Army Community Service Financial Readiness Program manager, talks with Army Emergency Relief Campaign unit key persons about their responsibilities and the campaign materials that they will be picking up later during the AER kick-off meeting Feb. 24 in the Resiliency Center. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Katie Peterson | Staff Writer

In early 2015, Roger Capote, then a staff sergeant and training operations noncommissioned officer for the Religious Support Office, was diagnosed with a medical condition that would require surgery and a prolonged recovery.


“At that time, it was just my wife (Lesley Capote), myself and our daughter,” Capote said. “(Lesley) was working, she had to go to school, and she just had a lot of stuff on her plate, and we had no other family members here.”

Mark Ramsey, Army Community Service Financial Readiness Program manager, talks with Army Emergency Relief Campaign unit key persons about their responsibilities and the campaign materials that they will be picking up later during the AER kick-off meeting Feb. 24 in the Resiliency Center. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


Enter Army Emergency Relief, which gave Capote a $650 grant for a roundtrip ticket for any family members to fly in from Florida.


“We needed somebody to come over,” Capote said. “It was for any of my relatives from Florida that was able to come over.”


Although the months following Capote’s surgery were still a struggle because of intense rehabilitation and therapy, he said having that extra support thanks to AER was a blessing.


Now, Capote, who is medically retired, is giving back to AER as the unit representative for the Logistics Readiness Center as the 2021 AER Campaign kicked off March 1 and continues through May 15.


He said he wants other soldiers to receive the same help he did.


“I volunteered to be a keyperson. I heard about it from an operations order and my whole experience came to mind,” Capote said.


AER is a non-profit organization created to help soldiers, retirees and Army family members with emergency expenses such as rent, food assistance, medical expenses, emergency travel and vehicle repairs through interest-free loans, grants or a combination of the two. It also provides scholarships for spouses and dependent children to continue their education. Since its establishment in 1942, AER has provided more than $2 billion in assistance.


Mark Ramsey, Army Community Service Financial readiness program manager, said new categories of assistance have been created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including child care, remote education, dignified storage of remains and expenses because of the Department of Defense travel ban.


“They changed things around so that we can meet the needs the COVID-19 restrictions caused,” Ramsey said.


In 2020, Fort Leavenworth AER gave $189,500 in loans and grants to soldiers in need and raised $32,869. While this year, Fort Leavenworth AER has an unofficial goal of raising $40,000, Maj. Travis Reisner, former AER campaign coordinator, said the main goal is to get the word out to everybody.


“We just want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to see the information and a chance to contribute,” Reisner said. “There’s an internal, informal target at $40,000 for the active component on the post, but there’s an understanding that COVID-19 caused trying times and all that, so we’re just really focusing on getting the word out there.”
Ramsey said it’s not about individuals making large donations.


“We don’t need large donations,” he said. “What we need is small donations from a lot of people.”


To donate, soldiers can call their unit keyperson or visit www.armyemergencyrelief.org or https://give.armyemergencyrelief.org/. Soldiers and Army retirees can donate via cash, check or monthly allotment. Civilians and service members and retirees of other military branches can donate via cash or check on the websites.


To donate in-person at the ACS office, 600 Thomas Ave., e-mail Ramsey at mark.l.ramsey.civ@mail.mil or current AER campaign coordinator Capt. Angel Rosario at angel.a.rosarioescobar.mil@mail.mil.

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