BY T. Anthony Bell, Fort Lee Public Affairs
Fort Lee, Va. (Nov. 26, 2008) -- For some time now, Army spouse Pasha Quintana has desired to start a college degree program but couldn't get the ball rolling for various reasons.
Thanks to a Central Texas College scholarship program, she's one step closer to realizing her dream.
The wife of Warrior Transition Unit Soldier Sgt. Roberto Quintana is the installation's first recipient of a CTC program that will allow her to complete 30 credit hours at the school free of charge.
"I'm just so happy," said Pasha, who recently completed her first two classes at the school. "It's just great what Central Texas is doing, especially for our wounded Soldiers. There is so much out there for them, but the fact that they're including the wives and Families, makes me emotional. It's one of the most American things they can do."
Under the provisions of its Wounded Warrior Spouse Scholarship Program, which was created in the spirit of Army Family Covenant, spouses of Purple Heart recipients are eligible for up to 30 semester hours within a one-year period that began Aug. 1.
Spouses interested in the program must present a marriage license, Department of Defense identification card and their spouse's DD Form 214 or Purple Heart award orders. Only spouses of those Soldiers who earned the Purple Heart after September 2001 are eligible.
Dick Gates, the CTC site manager at Fort Lee and a former veteran himself, said the program is a way of giving back to military members who have sacrificed so much for their country.
"It's an excellent program," said the Vietnam veteran. "My personal feeling is that we can't do enough for Soldiers. They deserve the best that we can provide."
Spouses who take full advantage of the program stand to gain about $3,900 in free tuition, "Plus text books," said Gates, "so you're probably looking at around $5,000."
Pasha, who is a licensed stylist, said the scholarship offer helped her to kick-start a degree program in information technology. She added that she knows all too well the challenges that spouses of wounded warriors face in supporting their Families and that higher education is sometimes not an option.
"Everybody who can should take advantage of the program," she said.
Stacey Towns is an education counselor with the Soldier and Family Assistance Center which provides a number of assistance services to WTU members. She said that although Pasha is the first recipient of the program, she anticipates that more will sign up.
"I would hope that the number will grow as more Soldiers and spouses become aware of the program," she said, "and as Fort Lee expands because of BRAC, I'm sure that it will."
The WWSSP is available at CTC campuses throughout the nation, said Gates. The program is funded for the current program year, but funding beyond that is uncertain, he added.
For more details on the program, visit the CTC Web site at www.ctcd.edu/militaryspouses.