Funding a college education can be a difficult proposition for anyone, but for children of parents who died while serving in the military, it can be downright daunting. According to the Jacksonville, Florida-based nonprofit Children of Fallen Patriots, 15,000 American children have lost a military parent over the past 25 years. Now, the foundation is on a mission to identify as many of them as possible and offer them help paying their college bills. So far they’ve found 5,218 of these students, and paid $7.5 million toward their college educations.
“Our focus is on military children who have lost a parent in line of duty or any related deaths, like PTSD suicide or illnesses from exposure launch,” Army veteran David Kim, the founder of Children of Fallen Patriots, told Helena Hovritz of Forbes. “When government benefits don’t come through, we step in and pay for what they need.”
Hovritz writes that before Daniel Richard Healy’s final deployment, he told his son Jacob Centeno Healy that what he most wanted was for him to go to college. When Senior Chief Petty Officer Healy died, Jacob didn’t know how he could pay for college. “The VA wouldn’t provide benefits to me because they didn’t recognize me as my dads’ son,” Healy told Forbes.
So Fallen Patriots stepped in and funded Jacob Healy’s education. Now he works as a program administer for the organization, helping other people who’ve lost parents in the military find all the scholarships and government aid available to them, and covering the rest of the costs with funds from the nonprofit.
On this Memorial Day, Children of Fallen Patriots reminds us that we owe our fallen heroes so much. They gave our country their parents: the least we can do is provide them with a college education.