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Family Matters Blog: Scholarship Paves Way to Better Future for Army Spouse

By Alicia Brown
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 8, 2011 – Army Sgt. 1st Class Lizandro Mateo-Ortiz suffered serious injuries when he was run over while serving in Iraq in 2007. At the time, he was the family's sole breadwinner, supporting his wife and two teenage daughters.

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Milena Mateo-Ortiz earned her bachelor's degree in health administration with help from a National Military Family Association scholarship. Courtesy photo
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Suddenly, Milena Mateo-Ortiz found her life changed. She now had to find a way to support her family, and knew education was the answer. Their daughter, Stephanie, decided to postpone her college experience so that her mom could earn a degree.

Milena now has a bachelor's degree in health administration, and is working on her master's degree, thanks to the generosity of companies and organizations such as Dominion Virginia Power, which recently presented $250,000 to the National Military Family Association. NMFA provides scholarships to military spouses like Milena, who wish to improve their education and become more employable.

Military spouses don’t always fare well against the civilian workforce. According to the Defense Department’s Military Spouse Employment Partnership, 85 percent of military spouses want or need to work, and military wives earn 25 percent less than their civilian counterparts. The program is one of many that experts encourage spouses to seek out for guidance, information and empowerment.

Without the assistance, Milena said, she couldn't have afforded to pursue a degree that will land her a good enough job to support her daughters and her husband, who remains on a feeding tube. Now she's also well on her way to what will be a proud accomplishment when she graduates in 2013.

For more posts like this one, visit AFPS' Family Matters Blog.

 

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