WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Living on one income is a tough reality for a lot of military families. Multiple surveys show military spouses have up to a 3-time higher unemployment rate than other Americans.
"The spouses typically can't work because there is a lot of travel," says Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee Darrell Green. Green works with national nonprofit ThanksUSA to give support to military veterans, personnel, and their families. Because of the transient nature of military family life, incomes may average less than $46,000 per year for 20 years.
Green says, "There are 1.1 million kids and (in military families) over 100,000 of them are between 17 and 22. So guess what, that's college time! So we need money. So we should, and we do, help fund those dollars."
This is where ThanksUSA lends a helping hand. Nearly 4,200 scholarships have been awarded from ThanksUSA to military family recipients since 2006. The students represent all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Scholarships given so far have a total value of $13 million.
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During the Treasure our Troops Gala in DC this fall, $250,000 worth of scholarships were given to future college students. Kaplan University awarded 9 full scholarships to military spouses who are their Kaplan scholars, "Who tend to be our very best students," says Meg O'Grady of Kaplan University.
O'Grady says, "Think about those military spouses, and they're running their families and they're moving around sometimes every 3 years, sometimes every year."
"Sometimes spouses say, 'finally, I can go to get my degree as well as the kids'", adds Green.
ThanksUSA is in the middle of a $100 Million Strong campaign, and they recently launched an initiative called Pathways for Patriots. The goal is to greatly increase the reach of the military family scholarship program over the next decade.
The Pathways for Patriots program is working with corporations like Lockheed Martin, CVS Health, Smiths Detection, and Kaplan University to create an easier path for military spouses and young adults who are interested in post-secondary degrees, certifications, and careers opportunities.
Donations are welcome and The Kovner Foundation is matching up to $400,000 of all new donations through June 30, 2018.