Army Charity Hoards Millions as Veterans Suffer
Army Emergency Relief fund's reserve dwarf its giving
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 22, 2009 6:10 PM CST
Family and friends of Staff Sgt. Alex Jimenez and Spc. Byron Fouty stand as the casket bearing their remains passes by, just outside of Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2009.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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(Newser) – A US Army charity is hoarding tens of millions of dollars while military families face record foreclosures and long deployments, the AP reports. Designed to dole out cash to veterans in financial crisis, Army Emergency Relief has padded reserves with $117 million and given or lent only $64 million. "I think they could give more," said the founder of another military charity. "In fact, that's why that's there."

Executives of the charity, which is run by the Army, say a large reserve is necessary in tough times: "Look at the stock market," one said. But critics go further, saying AER blurs the line between military and financial affairs, rewarding soldiers who contribute and delaying promotions when loans are not repaid. One officer admits that soldiers can interpret charity business as an order. "Why?" he asks. "Because I'm a lieutenant."