Senator Whelan to Introduce Bill That Creates Scholarship Program for Families of Fallen and Disabled Military

Senator Whelan, D-Atlantic, speaking at a panel discussion on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Senator Jim Whelan announced plans today to introduce legislation that would provide college scholarships to the families of military personnel who were killed, missing in action or disabled while protecting our country since the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

“Many New Jersey armed service members have put their lives on the line for our county,” said Senator Whelan, D-Atlantic. “When they are killed or severely injured in the line of duty, it can have devastating economic repercussions for their families back home.  By providing families of fallen and disabled military members with college scholarships, we can help stabilize their lives and ensure their loved ones’ legacies are kept alive.”

The bill would create a Military Dependents Scholarship Fund to provide scholarships to the spouse, children or other eligible dependents of a New Jersey resident who was killed, MIA or disabled while serving in four recent military campaigns. The scholarship would help pay for the cost of undergraduate study at a public or independent college or university.

A spouse would be eligible for a scholarship for ten years following the death of their spouse, the date when their spouse was officially listed as missing in action or the date their spouse was certified as being totally and permanently disabled. A dependent child would be eligible for the scholarship for eight years following their graduation from high school.

A board of trustees that would include individuals affected by the four campaigns would determine eligibility and amounts of scholarships, along with fundraising. The fund would also be supported by Legislative appropriations and investment earnings.

Here are the four operations:

  • Operation Noble Eagle – military operations related to homeland security and support to federal, state and local agencies in the wake of the 9/11 attacks;
  • Operation Iraqi Freedom – the invasion of Iraq by US military personnel that led to the defeat of Saddam Hussein’s regime;
  • Operation Enduring Freedom – the current combat operation which supports the Global War on Terror active in Afghanistan, the Philippines, and parts of Africa; and
  • Operation New Dawn – the stabilizing operation in Iraq from September 1, 2010 to December 15, 2011.

According to the Department of Defense, as of March 10, 2014, 6,801 Americans have been killed in Operations Iraqi Freedom, New Dawn and Enduring Freedom. The DOD also states that 51,907 Americans have been wounded in action during these campaigns – although this number does not reflect those who would be deemed totally and permanently disabled.

Senator Whelan expects to introduce the legislation next week.