DeCA helps military children go to college

Front row from left to right: Mabel Snider, Sarvis district manager; Kimberly Houston, Commissary store manager; Derek Hopper, scholarship recipient and Col. Richard Ayres, 17th Training Wing commander, pose for a group photo after a scholarship presentation ceremony Wednesday at the Goodfellow Commissary. Bryan and Joy Hopper stand behind their son Derek.  (Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luis Loza Gutierrez.)

Front row from left to right: Mabel Snider, Sarvis district manager; Kimberly Houston, Commissary store manager; Derek Hopper, scholarship recipient and Col. Richard Ayres, 17th Training Wing commander, pose for a group photo after a scholarship presentation ceremony Wednesday at the Goodfellow Commissary. Bryan and Joy Hopper stand behind their son Derek. (Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luis Loza Gutierrez.)

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The Scholarships for Military Children Program applications, sponsored by the Defense Commissary Agency, are currently available for 2008.

Since its inception in 2001, the Scholarships for Military Children Program has awarded more than 3,000 scholarships totaling over $5 million.

"The Defense Commissary Agency understands that the cost of a college education for a child can be quite a challenge for some military families," said Kimberly Houston, Goodfellow Commissary store director.

"Community involvement is what the Goodfellow Commissary is all about, and Scholarships for Military Children is one way to show we care," added Ms. Houston.

Applications for the $1,500 scholarships are available at 264 commissaries worldwide, or can be downloaded through links at: www.commissaries.com or www.militaryscholar.org

Applications must be turned in at a commissary by close of business Feb. 20. The program is open to unmarried children under the age of 21 (23 if enrolled in school) of military active-duty, Reserve, Guard and retired personnel. Eligibility will be determined using the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System database. The applicant must be planning to attend, or already attending, an accredited college or university full-time in the fall term of 2008, or enrolled in a program of studies designed to transfer directly into a four-year program.

Thanks to the Scholarships for Military Children program, 566 students received $1,500 scholarships to apply toward college tuition last fall.

In 2007, the Goodfellow Commissary presented two of those $1,500 scholarships to two local students, Samantha Caszatt, a student at Angelo State University and Derrick Hopper, a graduate of Central High School in San Angelo.

"We were very proud to present two scholarships last year; however we highly encourage all eligible candidates to apply and submit their forms as soon as possible," Ms. Houston said.

Scholarship Managers, a professional scholarship firm, selects the winners based on academic merit, participation in extracurricular and volunteer activities, and the quality of their essays. Recipients are notified by letter. The full list of scholarship recipients and sponsoring business partners is posted online at http://www.militaryscholar.org.

The Scholarships for Military Children program is funded by the manufacturers and suppliers that provide support for commissaries worldwide and administered by Fisher House Foundation, a nonprofit organization responsible for building comfort homes near military medical centers.

The foundation bears all costs of the program so that every dollar donated goes for scholarships. The general public has the opportunity to donate to the program through the military scholar Web site.

(The Defense Commissary Agency contributed to this article)