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THANKSUSA MARKS $9 MILLION MILESTONE

More than 3,000 children and spouses of U.S. troops awarded the gift of education

Mclean, VA – August 29, 2013 – ThanksUSA today announced that it has awarded more than $9 million to date in post-secondary school scholarships for the children and spouses of U.S. troops. This milestone includes approximately 300 new scholarships awarded over the past week, totaling nearly $1 million in funds.

Since its founding in 2005 by sisters Rachel and Kelsi Okun, ThanksUSA has awarded over 3,000 scholarships to military families in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

“We were just girls – I was 10 and Kelsi was eight – when we started looking for a way to thank our troops for all they sacrifice in keeping us safe,” said Rachel Okun, now 17. “Over the past eight years, we have been overwhelmed by the generosity of those who feel the same and who want to help support military families through ThanksUSA.”

“We understood the importance of a good education and wanted to share our blessings with the families of our service men and women,” added Kelsi Okun, now 14. “The gift of education is the perfect way to do so.”

The Okun sisters travel the country speaking with ThanksUSA scholarship recipients in order to introduce them to Americans through video profiles and speeches. ThanksUSA’s new videos will be released at the organization’s annual gala at Washington DC’s Newseum on September 25, 2013, hosted by Lara Logan of CBS News. Tom Brokaw will be honored at the gala as will Col. Lanier Ward, survivor of a critical battle in Iraq and inspiration for ThanksUSA. Senator Roy Blunt, who represents 74 Missouri scholarship recipients, will also be honored. Senator Blunt took a personal interest in ThanksUSA as a House Member discussing the program with the troops in Iraq during the formative years of the program.

Among this year’s award recipients is Donnice Roberts, proud widow of U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Kevin Casey Roberts. Donnice is pursuing dual degrees in Education and Rehabilitation Services with the end goal of working within the military community.

“I am truly grateful to ThanksUSA for this generous scholarship. I want to honor my husband’s legacy by using my education to help fellow military families. My children are learning that even through tragedy, we can overcome and succeed. With your support, I will make a difference and I will succeed.”

ThanksUSA also announced today a continuing partnership with the world-record holding doubles tennis twins Bob and Mike Bryan. The organization has established a nationwide Tennis Thanks the Troops campaign – a partnership with the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) involving tennis pros, fans and local communities, and presents an online challenge called the “ ThanksUSA Treasure Hunt,” sponsored since 2008 by the Entertainment Software Association Foundation, which explore the nation’s history, culture and values.

As the battle in Iraq ends and the conflict in Afghanistan winds down, ThanksUSA plans to step up efforts to support the families of military personnel who are re-integrating into the workplace. Helping service members’ children and spouses advance their education and achieve successful careers will relieve the new pressures that challenge those who have returned home.

“Our troops and their families deserve our respect and our thanks for their service in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last 12 years,” said General George Casey, former Army Chief of Staff and ThanksUSA board member. “They have borne significant burdens to protect this country, and we cannot allow their contributions to be quickly forgotten. Their mission of defending us is, unfortunately, not over.”

About ThanksUSA
ThanksUSA is a non-partisan, charitable effort to mobilize Americans of all ages to “thank” the men and women of the United States armed forces. The organization provides college, technical and vocational school scholarships for the children and spouses of active-duty status military personnel. For more information, visit www.thanksusa.org.
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2013 Graduate

Congratulations to Navy dependent and newly commissioned Air Force officer, Allia Grace Martinez! Receiving a total of $9,000 in ThanksUSA scholarships, this amazing scholar recently earned her B.S. in Biomedical Sciences, graduating from the University of South Alabama with Cum Laude honors.

Allia Grace Martinez

Graduation day served as an exceptionally memorable day as Allia Grace was also commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force. Her family shared in her commissioning by pinning on her bars, while the first salute was rendered by her father, CSC Alfredo Dyune Martinez, U.S. Navy (Ret).

ThanksUSA supporters may recognize Allia Grace and her family from previous Scholarship News blog posts. Thanks to gracious contributions from Lockheed Martin, the Blavatnik Family Foundation, Goldman Sachs Gives, Charity Works, and Military Connection, Allia Grace and her brothers, Aljo Victor and Alden David, have received ThanksUSA scholarships totaling $15,000!

The entire ThanksUSA team congratulates Allia Grace on her accomplishments and we wish her well as she trains for her Air Force career in Space and Missiles. We also extend our thanks to the Martinez family for sharing this special day with ThanksUSA supporters!

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“We as a family would like to, once again, express our gratitude to ThanksUSA and all the grantors who make it possible for students like our daughter finish college. Your time and generosity are greatly appreciated. We will never forget your kindness to our family. May God bless you all abundantly.”
Sincerely,
Dyune and Amy Martinez

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NOVA/DC area ThanksUSA scholars & military families:  The Washington Kastles will host Military Appreciation Night on Monday, July 22nd. See Martina Hingis and the Kastles take on the Philadelphia Freedoms! ThanksUSA has a limited number of FREE tickets available for our scholars and local military families. If you’re interested, please message us on Facebook.

We will fulfill requests on a first come/first serve basis.  If you miss out on our free tickets, don’t despair…Active-duty, veterans, and military family members can get Buy One, Get One 50% Off tickets through ticketmaster using promo code WKMN13.

Kastles Military Apprecation Night Flyer

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Congratulations to ThanksUSA scholars Karen and Brittany Butler! This mother/daughter duo each earned degrees from Valdosta State University and proudly walked the stage together. Karen says, “It was a great moment in my life to share something so special with my daughter!”

 

karen and brittany grad 2013

Karen, spouse of MSGT Kevin Butler, USAF RET, has received consecutive ThanksUSA scholarships totaling $6,000 for her undergraduate studies at Valdosta State University.  Karen received a KPMG LLC/ThanksUSA scholarship in 2011 and an EADS/Senator Ted Stevens Memorial scholarship through ThanksUSA in 2012.

She recently completed her Associates of Art in Business Administration and will continue her studies to earn her BA in Accounting with certification in both Healthcare Administration and Human Resources.

Kevin and Karen’s daughter, Brittany, also received $6,000 in ThanksUSA scholarships for her Biology major at Valdosta State.  She received a Blavatnik Family Foundation/ThanksUSA scholarship in 2010 and an EMC Corp/Senator Ted Stevens Memorial scholarship through ThanksUSA in 2011.

This May, Brittany graduated from the Valdosta State University Honors College. She received Summa Cum Laude honors and earned her BA in Biology with a minor in Chemistry.

ThanksUSA is proud to support our deserving military families and we hope you will join us in congratulating both Brittany and Karen on a job well done – Way to go ladies!!

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2013 Graduate

Congratulations to Air Force dependent Michael Atkins, Jr, who graduated from North Carolina State University with degrees in Sociology and Political Science. While at NC State, the Thomas Jefferson Scholar received consecutive ThanksUSA scholarships totaling $9,000. With his undergraduate studies complete, Michael is eagerly preparing for law school.

Graduation announcement

Michael has remained actively involved with ThanksUSA throughout his college years. He was first introduced to ThanksUSA supporters in a Scholarship News feature during his freshman year. He represented ThanksUSA scholarship recipients at our 2010 Congressional Round Table and has written letters of thanks to individual donors. Most recently, Michael has been meeting with fellow ThanksUSA scholarship recipients to establish a ThanksUSA alumni group.

ThanksUSA is just one of many charitable organizations that Michael contributes his time and energy to. He has made a lifetime commitment to community service and was even appointed to the North Carolina Commission for Volunteerism and Community Service at the age of 19.

Please join the ThanksUSA team in congratulating Michael on his academic accomplishments and wishing him continued success with law school. Congratulations Michael!!

In 2012, Michael had the opportunity to study abroad at the University of Manchester. He was able to fit in some incredible sightseeing which he is happy to share with ThanksUSA supporters:

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ThanksUSAFlyer

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2013 TTTT Flyer-Update 6.3.13

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