Veteran Support Organizations

Posted: May 15, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Military children and spouses can access more scholarships through ThanksUSA, an organization that supports military families. Since 2006, it has awarded 2,200 need-based scholarships totaling about $6 million. By the end of 2011, it aims to distribute another 500 scholarships valued at $1.5 million. This charity had a somewhat unusual beginning: two sisters, ages eight and 10, wanted to do more to support the country’s war fighters. They developed an idea to tie that support to a national treasure hunt game that would also teach U.S. history and values. Though anyone can play the online game for free, participants are encouraged to make a donation to help fund the scholarships. Private donations and events make up the remainder of the funding. Certain educational institutions participate as well, offering reduced tuition rates or scholarships through the program. Kaplan University is offering 50 percent off four years of tuition at their online school to spouses who meet the award criteria. Hills Bros. Coffee also is providing ThanksUSA scholarships. In each can of grounds, it has placed a coupon with a code. For every 100,000 codes entered online, it will donate 10 scholarships up to 50 total. It also counts “likes” on its Facebook page toward this goal. Michele Stork, executive director of ThanksUSA, says her organization has received five scholarships for this year and expects at least that number for next year. She hopes the public will help them reach the total number available.
Stork explains that these scholarships help the military adapt to changing situations. For Guard and Reserve households, a call to duty interrupts normal paychecks, meaning that sometimes college plans in the family are put on hold. In the families of wounded troops, a spouse might suddenly become the sole breadwinner. “We help the family increase its long-term earning power while reducing the economic strain on the family,” Stork says. The program also has ripple benefits through the military. According to Stork, most of the recipients desire to give back to the defense community through their education. She shares that an education major went on to teach military children; science and technology majors plan to develop future military capabilities; medical majors intend to assist troops with physical or mental disabilities; and undergraduates have gone on to serve in the military after earning their degrees. Military families at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, receive their new computers courtesy of Operation Homelink. The organization distributes computers to family members of units preparing to ship overseas so they can stay in touch during the deployment.
Anyone interested in applying for ThanksUSA scholarships can sign up on the website to be reminded when the program opens for 2012. All applications are accepted online from April 1 to May 15. Stork encourages people to ensure they fill out all the necessary forms and attach other necessary paperwork. She urges people to “apply, apply, apply.” She also wants the military to know that people are grateful. “We appreciate your service and understand the sacrifices that you and your families make every day,” Stork states. But what if people have a hard time accessing the Internet because they lack a home computer? For many junior enlisted families, this is their reality, and beyond applying for scholarships, it means they miss the best connection to their deployed loved ones. Operation Homelink helps remedy this problem by providing computers to those who need them. Founder and President Dan Shannon estimates that 10 percent to 15 percent of military families fall into this category. “In many cases, their computers may have broken, and they don’t have the funds to replace them or in several cases, the service member took their only laptop with him, and the wife does not have one,” he says. “To illustrate the need, I can tell you that I have met families who have driven five hours each way to come to one of our events to get a computer.” For additional information on ThanksUSA refer to http://www.thanksusa.org. For scholarship questions call (877) 849-878. [Source: AFCRA Veterans Focus Rita Boland article Nov 2011 ++]

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