A small provision in the recently passed Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care bill significantly boosts the educational benefits provided to the surviving spouses of fallen service members
Established in 2009, the Gunnery Sgt. John D. Fry Scholarships have been awarded to the surviving dependent children of those who have died in the line of duty since 10 September 2001. The Fry Scholarship provided benefits nearly identical to those provided by the Post 9/11 GI Bill, including tuition, a housing allowance, and an annual book allowance.
However, the surviving spouses of the same service members were entitled to Dependents Educational Assistance (DEA), a program that pays a flat rate of $1,003 per month. The Fry Scholarship program is a significant increase in benefits that will help surviving spouses as they move on with the next phases of their lives.
Eligible spouses can apply for the Fry Scholarship via the VA Website. As this legislation has just passed, I anticipate it will be a few days before the VA catches up. In the meantime, spouses can make educational plans for the fall with significantly fewer worries about the financial side of things.
This is the type of fabulous program that many widows and widowers don't know about because they aren't in the military news loop. If you know anyone who might be eligible for this new benefit, be sure to share this information with them.