Bill plans scholarship money for families of those killed, injured in military

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Lawmakers gathered at the General Assembly on Wednesday to discuss the filing of a bill that would provide scholarship funds to families of military members who were killed or became disabled while serving.

"The global war on terror has claimed thousands of lives, with many of those from military men and women stationed here in North Carolina," said State Sen. Harry Brown, R-Jones.

The proposal calls for $1 million to be earmarked for that cause during the next two years.

"While we certainly have made progress in the war, we know that unfortunately there will be more casualties. It's a moral imperative that we support the families that have already been impacted, and for the parents who have to face the possibility of being deployed to dangerous war zones," Brown said.

The proposal would apply to all branches of the military, and money would be eligible at any community college, college, or university in North Carolina.

For Wesley Bauguess, a Gold Star wife, it's a show of support as her two girls enter the next stage of their education.

"Well-intentioned friends told us, 'oh we just have to get through the first. The first year, the first birthdays, the first anniversaries.' But the firsts don't stop," Bauguess said.

Her husband, Maj. Larry Bauguess, was killed 12 years ago while serving in Pakistan.

Now, Ryann, their oldest, is a freshman in college, while Ellie, their youngest, is a junior in high school.

"Larry and I went to college. We know the value of a good education. He and I would have done anything to educate our daughters," Baugess said.

The proposal calls for working with the non-profit Patriot Foundation, an all-volunteer organization that has provided more than $5 million in scholarship money to children of service members from across the country.

"If we sat here crumpled and defeated, if we felt sorry for ourselves even for a single moment, Larry Bauguess would come back down here and kick us square in the backside. And he would say 'Get up. Drive on. The best way to honor me is to get back out there and continue to live.' And so that's what we do. We drive on. We live the best life we can, and we live it in a way that we hope brings honor to him," Wesley Bauguess said.

Lawmakers noted that North Carolina has the fourth-most active-duty military members of any state, highlighted by Fort Bragg, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, and Camp Lejeune. Of the approximately 120,000 active-duty military members, legislators estimate they have about 60,000 school-aged children.

To learn more about the proposal, click here.
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