YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Soldiers in the 2nd Infantry Division raised more than $300,000 for Army Emergency Relief, the largest donation in five years.

The total amount raised for the campaign that ran March 15 through May 30 is $312,049, said Jon Coachman, AER officer for the 2nd Infantry Division.

In 2002, $277,000 was raised; in 2001, $269,000.

Commanders were very active this year in spreading the word about donating to AER, Coachman said.

“Everyone wants to beat the total that someone got last year,” he added.

AER provides grants or interest-free loans to soldiers facing emergencies. For those meeting program criteria, money can be given for items such as food, rent, funeral or medical expenses.

According to AER’s Web site, the program will not help soldiers with legal expenses, covering bad checks or paying down debt.

The amount is based on the emergency.

No limit is set on the number of times a soldier may receive a grant or loan.

All active-duty and Army National Guard soldiers and reservists who have been on active duty more than 30 days are eligible.

About 700 of the division’s 14,000 soldiers received some assistance from AER last year, Coachman said. About 98 percent of the payments were for travel-related expenses such as airline tickets for emergency leave, Coachman said.

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