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TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senators Jim Whelan and Jim Beach 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 is now law.

“Many men and women of New Jersey have heroically stepped up in a time of catastrophe and tragedy to protect our country and have made the ultimate sacrifice in doing so,” said Senator Whelan, D-Atlantic. “Often their families are left back home dealing with the economic repercussion of losing or limiting part of their income. By offering these families college scholarships, we can provide them with the tools necessary to get back on their feet economically, in order to stabilize their lives and to ensure their loved ones’ legacies are kept alive.”

The law, S-1812, creates 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 will help pay for the cost of undergraduate study at a public or independent college or university.

“By providing the children and spouses of fallen and injured military members with the opportunity to attend college here in New Jersey we are honoring these heroes in the best way possible, by providing for their families,” said Senator Beach, D-Camden and Burlington, Chairman of the Senate Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. “Hopefully knowing that their families’ futures are in part taken care of will provide a sense of relief and peace of mind to those who are courageously fighting to protect our freedoms.”

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 to include individuals affected by the four campaigns would determine eligibility and amounts of scholarships, along with fundraising. The fund could 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.

The bill was approved unanimously in both houses of the Legislature. The law takes effect immediately.