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CHICAGO (CBS) — On this Veteran’s Day, many who served are thankful for the benefits of the GI Bill.
However, for the families of those disabled while in service, there are significant financial challenges to overcome. CBS 2′s Vince Gerasole reports.
Therapy helps Timothy Lindgren stay healthy. But, the one-time Navy corpsman had a much different idea of life after military service, until a car accident severely injured him.
“I am a complete paraplegic,” said Lindgren. “From my sternum down, it’s just as numb as can be.”
Lindgren has managed to create a fulfilling life as a husband and father, supporting the household with the $45,000 he receives annually in GI benefits.
“I’m not like a millionaire, so we are living paycheck to paycheck,” he said.
Without his injuries, Lindgren could have earned much more. With the tuition for wife Jennifer to receive a medical records degree, it’s challenge financially.
“She’s only going to community college,” said Lindgren. “You don’t feel it’s all that expensive, but it is.”
With wars in Iraq and Afghanistan injuring soldiers, the number of families in similar situations has grown. It’s estimated these soldiers have some 250,000 dependents–with 87 percent not qualifying for scholarship assistance.
“You are not able to work full-time or provide for your family full-time,” said Alberto Valasco.
Velasco, himself an injured Marine, works with the Folds of Honor program to provide these families $5,000 yearly scholarships to help them build a better life.
“The gap needs to be filled by us as Americans to support our veterans,” he said.
5/3rd Bank is among those awarding the scholarships and encouraging other companies to do the same.
“You just really feel compelled to say, ‘Gee I need to find a way to provide some sort of opportunity,’ ” said bank president Robert Sullivan.
Jennifer Lindgren is now receiving one of those scholarships, and her husband who served his country is grateful.
“Oh, it’s phenomenal,” said Timothy Lindgren. “I can’t put into words how special it is to me.”
The Folds of Honor Foundation program does not expect the government to fill in these gaps. It encourages the private sector to do what it can to improve the situation for these military families.