By Samantha L. Quigley
How to pay for a child's college education shouldn't be a consideration for those who lose a loved one in battle, and one troop-support group is working to ensure it isn't. "We provide financial assistance and college grants to the children and spouses of the fallen ... and severely injured servicemembers," Rebecca Campbell, founder of The Children of Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund, said. "It's all for different needs, but (applicants) have to have a financial need."
The Children of Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund is a member of America Supports You, a Defense Department program highlighting ways Americans and the corporate sector support the nation's servicemembers. Formed in 2003, The Gaithersburg, Md.-based nonprofit group started out with an attainable goal. "We wanted to help one child (attend college)," Campbell said. "But we haven't stopped."
Not only is her organization offering children and spouses of the fallen assistance with college tuition at an accredited college or university, it's also helping with home and car repair, utility bills and many other basic needs, Campbell said. Financial assistance applications are reviewed once a quarter unless there's an applicant is in an emergency situation. The college grants are reviewed twice a year with deadlines of Oct. 31 for spring semester and April 30 for the fall semester, she added.
The fund recently announced as recipients of financial assistance grants:
-- Nathan Smith, son of Navy Chief Warrant Officer Eric A. Smith, killed in central Iraq on April 2, 2003;
-- Jenniece Fraise, wife of Army Cpl. David M. Fraise, killed in Kandahar, Afghanistan on June 7, 2004;
-- Jeralind Wilridge, wife of Army Sgt. Kelly S. Morris, killed in Baghdad on March 30, 2005;
-- Dylan Layfield, son of Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Travis J. Layfield, killed in Anbar Province, Iraq on April 6, 2004
-- Jamelah Bush, daughter of Army Pfc. Charles E. Bush Jr., killed in Balad, Iraq on Dec. 19, 2003.
Bush also was presented with an educational award, Campbell said.
Cornell Gilmore Jr., son of Army Command Sgt. Maj. Cornell Gilmore, and Cristie Horton, wife of Army Staff Sgt. Jeremy Horton of Erie, Pa., were awarded fall semester college grants.
In 2005, the organization presented its first awards. The college awards totaled $40,500, and financial assistance to families with children under 18 totaled $39,250.
"We're trying to get the information out," Campbell said. "We have funds set aside, and as they hear about us ... they can apply, but we've been waiting for people to apply."
Information on eligibility requirements and applications for both awards is available on The Children of Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund Web site.