America Supports You: Spouses Receive Support with Scholarship
By Christopher J. Moore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 21, 2006 Military spouses looking to further their education are receiving a helping hand, thanks to America Supports You team member the National Military Family Association.
The group's Joanne Holbrook Patton Military Spouse Scholarship provides $1,000 to spouses of servicemembers studying for professional certification or attending post-secondary or graduate school. The funds can be used for tuition, fees, books, and school room and board, according to the NMFA Web site.
"NMFA has been working with education issues for a while, (but the work) wasn't specific to military spouses," said Michelle Joyner, the organization's director of communications. "However, we made correlation between spouse education and spouse employment, because we thought there was void in the area."
Spouses of active-duty, reserve-component and retired servicemembers are eligible, as are surviving spouses of deceased servicemembers.
Going on its third year, the program was renamed in 2005, after Joanne Holbrook Patton, the wife of the late Army Gen. George S. Patton Jr. Mrs. Patton stressed the importance of education for military spouses during her volunteer work for countless organizations.
Thanks to program sponsor General Dynamics, 20 military spouses received the scholarship in the first year, 35 in 2005, and NMFA expects the number to continue to increase, allowing more military spouses the ability to further their education, Joyner said.
The award is given to select recipients who complete a comprehensive application prior to the April 15 deadline. The application includes survey questions that will help NMFA continue to advocate for education changes on behalf of the award winner. The final decision is made by a panel of judges consisting of NMFA volunteers with military backgrounds: active duty, retired and spouses, Joyner said.
Elizabeth Radke, the wife of a Marine Corps master sergeant and a former Navy petty officer herself, said she hopes to receive the scholarship. She is enrolled in a post-baccalaureate certification program at a California state university.
"As a military spouse, you agree to support your spouse's job requirements. It is also important to be able to achieve your own personal and educational goals," Radke said. "Military spouses should be able to pursue an education in a timely manner so that when the time to transfer approaches, they are not hindered nor delayed."
Radke said she thinks the scholarship is a great way to recognize military spouses and support them. "It would be an honor to receive recognition associated with such a woman as Mrs. Patton," Radke said. "Education is important for military spouses, just as it is for civilians."
The National Military Family Association is a national nonprofit organization that focuses solely on the families of the uniformed services. The group supports military spouses, children and parents of servicemembers through efforts designed to enhance the opportunities and resources available to them -- before they need them, according to the organization's Web site.
The organization is a member of DoD's America Supports You program, which seeks to highlight national support for America's servicemembers. "NMFA has always been a big supporter (of America Supports You); it's a great program. We found through research that because military families are so dispersed, they draw huge support from the civilian community," Joyner said. "We get a lot of calls each day asking for some way to connect the two; having a place to direct people really helps."