Pathways for Patriots helps military families fill skills gap

Pathways for Patriots helps military families fill skills gap

By Rindi White

A new, $100 million initiative from national nonprofit ThanksUSA aims to help the children and spouses of military members get scholarships, obtain mentoring and receive internships.

The Pathways for Patriots program was unveiled in March on Capitol Hill. The program engages corporations from specific field — such as STEM (science, technology, engineering and math); public service; healthcare; hospitality; financial services; manufacturing; and energy — to create pipelines of military spouses and children interested in pursuing post-secondary degrees, certifications and ultimately careers in occupations that companies are struggling to fill. Organizers say the initiative will help scholars establish careers in hard-to-fill occupations through mentoring, internships and employee engagement.

“One of the biggest challenges facing our military families is college affordability,” says ThanksUSA President and retired Marine Lt. Col. Kevin Schmiegel, who created the program. “Almost 2 million military family members don’t wear the uniform but ‘serve’ too, including more than 700,000 spouses and 100,000 children between the ages of 17 and 22. Pathways for Patriots offers them financial and career support for a bright future and an extraordinary talent pipeline for corporate America.”

Schmiegel says most active-duty troops support their families on one income, making it difficult for a spouse and children to afford to go to college or achieve their career goals.

The Pathways program has an impressive list of corporate founders and sponsors, including Lockheed Martin, CVS Health, Kaplan University, Rumsfeld Foundation, Smiths Group, Cobham, The Wireless Association and Twin Logic Strategies.

Charlotte Orren, the child of a U.S. Navy service member, was at the event at which the new program was announced. She received a ThanksUSA scholarship between 2012 and 2014 and is now a flight-testing engineer for Lockheed, a global security and aerospace company based in Bethesda, Maryland.

“The opportunity to reach for my dreams was an incredible gift. I was given a wonderful opportunity to receive a top-notch education with the help of people who believed in me, including my parents and ThanksUSA,” Orren said. “Today, at Lockheed Martin, I continue to receive opportunities to develop my professional knowledge and experiences.”

ThanksUSA is a non-partisan, charitable effort to mobilize Americans of all ages to “thank” the men and women of the U.S. military. The organization provides college, technical and vocational school scholarships to the children and spouses of military personnel.

Learn more about the Pathways for Patriots program at the ThanksUSA web site.

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