Through all the years of our active duty military life, and continuing today, one of the best parts has been meeting and sharing experiences with some truly inspiring individuals – military spouses. I am always impressed with their strength, humor and resilience in the face of the stresses of military life. And I admire their ambition to achieve personal goals - despite unexpected moves or deployments – all while manning the home front in support of their service member.
I think about a few of my spouse friends who struggled to complete their education and professional training while being single parents during a deployment. They often had to navigate through different schools as a PCS interrupted their course work. But giving up on their education was never an option. It’s nice to know that there are organizations that recognize the sacrifices military spouses make in support of their Soldier, Airman, Marine or Reservist and want to help them achieve their dreams.
One of those is the National Military Family Association (NMFA). It offers the Joanne Holbrook Patton Military Spouse Scholarships to spouses of all active duty, National Guard and Reserve, retirees and survivors. The funds can be used for tuition, fees, room and board for college courses, vocational training, professional certification, even graduate school. You can be taking courses in a classroom or on-line; be a full or part-time student. Military spouses have until January 31, 2013 to apply for the scholarship on the NMFA web site. The only real requirement is that you must have a valid Military ID card, and the scholarship can be a real helping hand towards handling the costs of pursuing your professional goals.
Someone who appreciates that helping hand is Air Force spouse Torrey Fronk, a 2012 scholarship winner in our area. (Shown here with husband Justin.) She’s attending George Mason University, in the school’s accelerated Nursing program. “It’s hard for military families living in the DC area anyway because it is so expensive. The scholarship was $1,000 of relief – a real help.“
Torrey told me that she had done a lot of on-line research looking for scholarship help but was often frustrated because she didn’t qualify. She found information about the Holbrook Patton Scholarship and took a chance. She was awarded one of the program’s STEM scholarships sponsored by BAE Systems, geared towards students in science, technology, math or engineering. “I felt such a sense of gratitude and also that someone out there recognizes the sacrifices spouses make.”
NMFA says that the mission of the scholarship program is to help military spouses prepare for meaningful employment and to contribute to their family’s financial security, something Torrey hopes to do with her nursing degree. “I wanted a profession I could travel with, especially internationally.” She shared that she spent her teen years in Singapore where her father was a university professor. “I got involved in Habitat for Humanity there and other volunteer organizations and it’s become my goal to go back to Indonesia someday to do non-profit women’s health work.” Just another inspiring military spouse with an amazing dream.
It’s appropriate that the NMFA scholarship carries the name of another amazing woman – Joanne Holbrook Patton. She was the quintessential military spouse, supporting her husband’s long military career, raising a family and volunteering for service organizations through their 52 years of married life, including NMFA. She was a model of selfless service and recognized the importance of education for military spouses.
Those eligible have until midnight, Jan. 31, to complete the on-line application. Filling out forms and answering questions can be intimidating, but Torrey advises her fellow spouses to think about the pay-off. “It does seem daunting, but it’s worth it. Why not spend the time completing the application? You’ll be surprised how little time it actually takes. And I think NMFA understands that we are spouses trying to going back to school and they want to help.”
In addition to the scholarship program, military spouses can also use NMFA’s new MyMilitaryLife app to help get answers to continuing education questions and find other scholarship resources. Information about the app and the Holbrook Patton scholarships is on their website - www.militaryfamily.org.
Of course NMFA isn’t the only resource military spouses can turn to. Typing ‘military scholarships’ in the Google search bar will show you that there are many other military scholarship programs out there, including the MyCAA Scholarship. This education account program is for spouses of service members on active duty in pay grades E-1 to E-5, W-1 to W-2, and O-1 to O-2, including spouses married to members of the National Guard and Reserve Components in these same pay grades. Our local spouse clubs and Thrift Shops also offer scholarships.
Take advantage of these helping hands to achieve your own amazing dreams. Can you recommend a program that’s helped you? Share your scholarship search experiences and your education goals in our comments section.