COLUMBUS – Legislation that will give back to the men and women who help veterans with 100% service-connected disability has been approved through the Ohio General Assembly.
The Ohio Hidden Hero Scholarship Program, joint sponsored by State Representative Andrea White (R-Kettering) and Representative 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.
“Our veterans’ caregivers are the unsung heroes behind the heroes of our nation,” said White. “They provide an invaluable service to our country by giving daily assistance to those who have sacrificed in the protection of our nation. We want to recognize these individuals by encouraging Ohio colleges and universities to provide financial support so that they can finish their education and access better paying jobs.”
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.
Scholarship participation is voluntary for Ohio colleges and universities, who will fund the scholarships. 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 – led by Dr. Geri Maples, Chapter Director of the Dayton and Southwestern Ohio Blue Star Families, Dr. Cassie Barlow, President of SOCHE and former commander of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and Stephanie Keinath, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce,” 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 governor for further consideration.