Army Emergency Relief, an Army charity program that lets soldiers and Army families in need receive grants, loans and scholarships, is trying to make the system just a little bit easier for families to navigate.
Starting earlier this year, soldiers have been able to fill out the grant and loan application online, and then head into the AER office to complete the process, officials said. But soon they will be able to do the entire application online -- and won't necessarily ever need to visit the office, they said.
This change, which should go into effect late this year, follows a 2015 decision to no longer require any soldier who has served at least a year to get approval from his supervisor for a loan or grant. Prior to that, E-1 to E-4 soldiers were required to notify their commander or first sergeant before requesting a loan.
Since soft launching the the new application process in late February, about 10 percent of loan requests have initiated with the online application, said Charles Durr, a retired Army Command Sgt. Maj. who oversees assistance for AER.
"We are extremely excited about the online assistance application," Durr said. "The new process will allow soldiers to access their assistance request any time within minutes."