COLUMBUS – Legislation that will give back to the men and women that help service-connected disabled veterans received bipartisan support during a House vote Wednesday.
The Ohio Hidden Hero Scholarship Program, sponsored by State Representatives Andrea White (R-Kettering) and Adam Holmes (R- Nashport), authorizes state higher education institutions to provide scholarship opportunities to students who are caregivers of veterans with 100% service-connected disability.
“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 this country. We want to recognize these individuals by encouraging Ohio colleges and universities to provide financial support as they seek to complete their education.”
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.”
Scholarship participation is completely voluntary for Ohio colleges and universities, who will fund the scholarships. 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.
“The beauty of this program is that the idea came from Dayton-area residents involved with Blue Star Families and military and veterans’ advocates,” White said. “Their idea inspired us to take action to support our veteran caregivers and continue to welcome veterans and their families to make Ohio their permanent home.”
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 will now head to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.