Branford mom finds gap in post 9/11 G.I. benefit law

BRANFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — It’s a gaping hole in the educational benefits children get if their parents serve in the armed forces. The children of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice aren’t getting the same benefits for tuition.

Most people would agree that the nation must keep the faith with the families of men and women that have given their lives for our country, but there is an apparent gap in that faith.

Lt. Col. David Greene was shot down by ground fire while attempting to evacuate wounded soldiers from Fallujah in 2004. A Marine Corp Reservist, he was just 39 and due to come home within a few weeks. He left behind a wife and two children ages eight and ten.

“I was extremely numb and very much in pain, catatonic. But I suddenly realized I had to get pragmatic, and come to a plan for how to support the kids and how to get them through college,” said Sarah Greene of Branford, Col. Greene’s widow.

It was along this pragmatic path that Sarah realized that college tuition help was much more generous for those that came back than it was for those that did not under what’s called the Post 9/11 Yellow Ribbon G.I. Education Program.

Says Sarah, “What I understand and found out about the Yellow Ribbon Program is that it’s available for kids whose dads came back from war and is still alive. It’s not available to kids who lost a parent.”

Sarah went to her local State Rep. Lonnie Reed and now, Sen. Richard Blumenthal has joined with Republicans in the U.S. Senate to fix this oversight.

“This inequity ought to be corrected. It may have been inadvertent but that makes it no less important to close this gap,” says Blumenthal. “It’s just been a very difficult ordeal to patch it all together and pay for college,” added Sarah.

Her children are now 20 and 22. One just graduated from Trinity, the other is a college junior.

Sarah now works with the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, known as TAPS, to help others that have lost someone on active duty.

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