In 2018, the Fund established a Preschool Scholarship to provide tuition to Gold Star families.
VOCATIONAL, TECHNICAL, COLLEGE, AND GRADUATE SCHOOL TUITION ASSISTANCE FOR GOLD STAR FAMILIES
The Special Operations Fund is one of the first organizations called upon by casualty assistance officers when a special mission unit warrior is killed in the line of duty.
The Fund provides educational scholarships for Gold Star students. Since its inception in 1992 to date, the Special Operations Fund has granted over $16 million in scholarships and financial assistance. Hundreds of lives have been changed through educational grants that enable spouses and children of fallen warriors to pursue their higher educational goals.
Since 2001, ongoing deployments around the world have resulted in dramatic increases in the number of eligible recipients. The special mission unit troops and their families remain our concern. Their service and sacrifice over the past two decades are unprecedented in our nation’s history. The Fund remains committed to providing support to the families of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
”“No one in my entire life has been there for me and been as understanding, forgiving, encouraging and motivational as the SOFund has been to me. All in all you guys have again and again gone above and beyond for me. Having the degree opens so many doors for so many different career choices and paths because it’s almost impossible to support oneself, much less a family, on a minimum wage salary. I won’t have to perform heavy duty manual labor anymore either, just to earn decent wages. The quality of my life will be increased and forever changed.”– Christine, Gold Star Daughter
CAPTAIN RICK WOOLARD SCHOLARSHIP
In recognition of President Emeritus SEAL Captain Rick Woolard’s concern that unmarried fallen special mission unit warriors be remembered. In 2018 the Fund established the Captain Rick Woolard Scholarship that may be used at the discretion of the fallen warrior’s parents in a way they feel most appropriately celebrates and commemorates their child's life.
”“Nick loved to wrestle. I can still remember how loud my voice carried throughout this field house in support of Nick. It is only fitting that we honor Nick at his high school with this Special Operations Fund grant for the new wrestling mat and warm-ups. Our family wants to thank you for making this happen here today and for your continued compassion and support.”– Sharon
The following merit-based scholarships are available to the families of current and veteran members of Joint Special Operations Command special mission units.
PHILLIPS EXETER ACADEMY SUMMER SCHOOL SCHOLARSHIP
In 2012, the SOFund began a partnership with Phillips Exeter Academy Summer School, Exeter, NH, identifying military dependents eligible for their summer school program. Tuition (approximately $10,000) is provided by the SOFund to support eligible high school sophomores, and juniors who participate in this life-changing, five-week summer experience at Exeter. Exeter is based on the Harkness education system, a conference format of student interaction with minimal teacher involvement.
The annual assessment and selection window for Phillips Exeter Academy Summer School Scholarships is December-January.
”“I loved my time at Exeter! It’s one of the best summers I’ve ever had, and I honestly didn’t want to leave! I made great friendships and learned so much from both my peers and teachers. I feel that I gained a lot from their method of Harkness, which took some getting used to, but I found myself enjoying it. Exeter helped open up a different world for me.”– Abby, Exeter Student
In 2011 the Scowcroft Scholar Program was started in recognition of Lieutenant General (USAF Ret.) Brent Scowcroft. His foreign policy skills, critical advice and counsel to three U.S. Presidents helped guide our nation through many turbulent and dangerous times. The purpose of this program is to identify and support the next generation of leaders as they prepare themselves for service to our country. The scholarship provides $10,000 a year for four years. Our scholars are enrolled or have attended institutions such as Duke, Yale, Harvard, Vassar, University of Vermont, Brown, UNC-Chapel Hill, Duquesne, University of Kansas, Pennsylvania, Liberty, Appalachian State, Notre Dame, and Wellesley.
The annual assessment and selection window for the Scowcroft Scholarship is March-April.
”“My time at Duke has been immensely rewarding and introduced me to options which would not have been possible without your support and for that I am incredibly grateful.”– Shannon, Scowcroft Scholar
In 2017 the David C. Miller, Jr. Scholarship was established for a current college student. $5,000 is awarded for a summer internship, work, or study internationally.
The annual assessment and selection window for the Miller Scholar is October-November.
”“During my stay in South Africa as a Miller Scholar, I learned more academically, emotionally, and spiritually in those few weeks than any time in my life.”– Hollis, Miller Scholar
In 2015 we launched David C. Miller, Jr. Fellowship. This Fellowship provides college graduates up to $20,000 for up to two years, to study, work, or participate in charitable activities abroad. Among the many humanitarian projects, Fellows have served in Nepal working on a clean water project and in Zambia working with an international medical team.
Miller Fellow in Nepal working to establish clean water after the earthquake.
The annual assessment and selection window for the Miller Fellow is August-September.
”“My life has changed so much because of this opportunity.”-Jaleigh, Miller Fellow
The VOTECH Scholarship provides tuition assistance for studies at vocational schools, technical institutions, and community colleges.
The annual assessment and selection window for the VOTECH Scholarship is April-May.
”“The VOTECH scholarship from Special Operations Fund allowed me to receive the training I needed to elevate a longtime interest into a career—while we were already putting two kids through college. Thanks to the scholarship, I am working in a completely new job field with plenty of opportunities ahead!”– Heather, VOTECH Recipient
MERIT SCHOLARSHIP MATCHING GRANT PROGRAM
Fund provides grants for merit-based scholarships awarded by the Unit Scholarship Fund, Fort Bragg, NC; the Night Stalker Foundation, Fort Campbell, KY; The Rangers Scholarship Fund, Fort Benning, GA; the Navy SEAL Foundation, Virginia Beach, VA; The Association (USAF), Fort Bragg, NC; and Vigilant Torch Foundation, Springfield, VA.
”“Without the Fund’s generous support, we would not be able to award as many scholarships to those deserving children and spouses.”– President, Vigilant Torch Foundation
RED HAT SHELTON CHALLENGE PROGRAMS
The Special Operations Fund provides funding to children of the joint special operations community to attend the Red Hat Shelton Challenge Program. Red Hat Shelton Challenge cultivates tomorrow’s leaders through values-based leadership programs for rising 9th-12th graders. The core curriculum of this summer program is based on General Shelton’s five values related to leadership: honesty, integrity, diversity, social responsibility, and compassion. This is a residential program operated in conjunction with North Carolina State University.
Special Family Services
LEARNING ABILITY TESTING
The Special Operations Fund provides funding for learning ability testing which is not available through traditional military health insurance. Psychological testing can provide an official diagnosis opening up resources and opportunities to families for special education needs.
”“I feel I am now empowered with the information needed to provide my son a fighting chance. He was teased at school and called stupid but with test results, it has helped my son realize he is not stupid, but he knows he has challenges that hinder his ability to learn. What is truly amazing is the positive effect that assessment and the doctor has on my son.”– Special Mission Unit Operator