COLUMBUS – State Representatives Adam Holmes (R- Nashport) and Andrea White (R-Kettering) have introduced legislation to create the Ohio Hidden Heroes Scholarship Program initiative. House Bill 569 authorizes state higher education institutions to provide scholarship opportunities to students who are caregivers of veterans who have a 100% service-connected disability. The bill is the first of its kind in the nation.
Through the voluntary program, participating colleges and universities can offer scholarships to a family member, friend or acquaintance who provides a broad range of care and assistance for, or manages the care of a current or former military service member with a disabling physical or mental injury or illness.
“Many veterans with disabilities are reliant on a loved one for both daily assistance and financial support,” Holmes said. “Access to higher education means access to better paying and more flexible jobs. If we help veteran caregivers access that education, it will benefit both the caregiver and the veteran.”
“These caregivers are the unsung heroes behind the heroes of our nation,” said White. “They provide an invaluable service to our country by serving those who have sacrificed and endured wounds in the protection of our freedoms. We want to recognize these individuals by encouraging Ohio colleges and universities to provide financial support as they seek to complete their education.”
White and Holmes worked with Dr. Cassie Barlow and other local residents to create the legislation.
“The idea for this program came from local residents involved in Blue Star Families and the Elizabeth Dole Foundation,” said Dr. Barlow, President of SOCHE (Strategic Ohio Council for Higher Education) and Chair of the Greater Miami Valley myVeteran Community. “It’s just one more way we can demonstrate that Ohio cares about our veterans and their families – not just with words, but with actions.”
Scholarship participation is completely voluntary for Ohio colleges and universities, who will fund the scholarships at their institution. If an institution of higher education wishes to participate in the program they are encouraged to offer at least one scholarship per year.
For each academic year, the scholarship will provide 100% coverage of all tuition and fees not paid for by other financial aid, a book stipend to purchase textbooks, assistance to ensure caregivers can transfer any college credits earned to another higher education institution and the opportunity to earn college credits based upon a caregiver’s experience.
To be eligible for the scholarship, veteran caregivers must be enrolled as a family caregiver under the “Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers” through the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs and provide care for a veteran who has a 100% service-connected disability.
House Bill 569 now awaits a committee assignment.