2016 ThanksUSA Scholarship Recipients Selected

Current Awards Approach $1 Million as ThanksUSA Expands Campaign Ten-Fold

MCLEAN, Va.--()--ThanksUSA today announced the recipients of its post-secondary scholarships for the 2016-2017 academic year. More than 250 children and spouses of America’s Armed Forces have been selected to receive scholarships totaling nearly $1 million from the national non-profit organization dedicated to providing educational opportunities to military families.

“I think my father would be very proud of how far I've come … I like to think he’s smiling down on me.”

“ThanksUSA and its supporters nationwide are proud to present these awards to so many of our military families facing the challenge of college affordability,” said ThanksUSA President and retired Marine Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Schmiegel. “Most of our active duty troops support their families, including 700,000 spouses and more than 1.1 million children, with only one income. Working with our corporate partners, ThanksUSA not only helps close the financial gap for military families seeking higher education, but also provides pathways to productive and fulfilling careers.”

Among the ThanksUSA scholarship recipients from across the nation, representing a cross section of all the U.S. Armed Services, National Guard, Coast Guard, and Reserves, are:

  • Abigail Betts from Shelbyville, Kentucky, an Army Reserve dependent studying to be a speech therapist at the University of Louisville.

    Betts’ goal stems from her experiences with military life and helping a friend who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident. “I want to be a part of a team that works to bring healing to those who are disconnected ─ a bridge builder that assists in rebuilding thought processing skills, communication skills, and even social skills,” she explains. “In visiting hospitals, military rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, and schools with my father, who is an Army Reserve chaplain, pastor, and teacher, I have found a burden and passion.”
  • Craig Thurber from Mayetta, Kansas, an Army National Guard dependent and an athletic training major at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas.

    Thurber was ten years old when his stepfather, MSG Bernard Deghand, was killed in Afghanistan in 2006. He took on the role of “man of the house” and father figure to his sister. Today, Thurber plans to work with children when he completes his studies. “Because of your generous donation, I am able to pursue my dream,” he says of his ThanksUSA scholarship. “I think my father would be very proud of how far I've come … I like to think he’s smiling down on me.”
  • Amy Tiner from Fort Hood, Texas, an Army spouse and mother of five and a nursing major at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.

    “Nursing is a calling,” says Tiner. “Being a wife to a soldier, I have seen the many struggles that military life can put on the family unit; how significant medical uncertainties can be devastating when far from extended family,” she says. “I look most forward to working with children diagnosed with cancer and other significant medical problems. I want to be their light though the clouds and truly make a difference in others’ lives.”

Beginning with the 2016 cohort, ThanksUSA is also expanding its support of military families with a new ten-year campaign to increase scholarships ten-fold. The organization plans to provide 25,000 grants over the next decade through its unique Pathways for Patriots initiative that not only provides the annual grants of $3,000 each, but also calls on companies to provide mentoring, networking, internship, and career opportunities for the scholars they sponsor.

“Today we are also a pathway to employment for the talented children and spouses of our military members,” explains Schmiegel. “The Pathways program will engage corporations in industries that are struggling to find skilled workers and create pipelines of ThanksUSA scholars interested in pursuing post-secondary degrees, certifications, and, ultimately, careers in occupations that are going unfilled. With systemic workforce shortages across America ─ as evidenced by the millions of vacant jobs in manufacturing, energy, healthcare, and STEM-related fields ─ companies have an opportunity to hire talented military spouses and children by simply embracing our Pathways program.”

Leading the Pathways for Patriots program are:

  • Pathway to Public Service, with 40 grants in recognition of Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Richard Myers’ wife Mary Jo Myers, a military spouse of more than four decades, who has established and nurtured educational, health, and other programs for military families here at home and humanitarian assistance worldwide.
  • Pathway to Tech/STEM, supported by founding members Lockheed Martin, a global security and aerospace company with approximately 98,000 employees worldwide, and Smiths Group, the world’s leading manufacturer of sensors for detecting explosives, weapons, and other threats to national security.

Since its inception in 2005, ThanksUSA has awarded 4,000 scholarships to military families valued at $12 million. Individual and corporate sponsors championing the organization’s efforts include Altria, American Airlines, Apex Systems, Blavatnik Family Foundation, Centene Corporation, Health Net Federal Services, Intelligent Decisions, Jackson Casey Fund, Kaplan University, KPMG, The Kovner Foundation, Lockheed Martin, Navy Postgraduate School Foundation, Paladin Capital Group, Pershing Square Foundation, Red Cloud Food Services, Rumsfeld Foundation, USA Funds, and others.

About ThanksUSA:

ThanksUSA is a non-partisan, charitable effort to mobilize Americans of all ages to “thank” the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. The organization provides college, technical, and vocational school scholarships to the children and spouses of military personnel. For more information, visit www.ThanksUSA.org.


Michele Stork

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Release Summary

2016 ThanksUSA scholarship recipients selected. Current awards approach $1 million as ThanksUSA expands campaign ten-fold.