The Veterans’ Families Freedom Scholarship

By John Baden, PhD, Foundation for Research on Economics & the Environment

In 2012, the Montana State University Alumni Foundation, working in conjunction with interested donors and Montana State University’s Office of Disability, Re-Entry and Veteran Services, established the Veteran Families Freedom Scholarship Initiative. 
Gifts to this initiative create endowed scholarships (for undergraduates) and fellowships (for graduate students) are designed to help:
  • Qualifying spouses of veteranswho have made their own tremendous sacrificesto pursue college degrees and their related economic opportunities.
  • Address known gaps in the Post 9/11 GI Bill, improving access to and retention of veterans and veterans’ families at our University
  • Empower veteran families to say “Yes, both of us,” rather than ask “But, which of us?” to higher education. 
  • Establish MSU and Bozeman as the University and community of choice for those veterans returning from military service in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Allow the Montana State University community to benefit from the diversity, talents, experiences and leadership skills that our veterans and their families uniquely offer. 
Bozeman is remarkable for its contagious generosity. We swim in a pool of opportunities to participate in good causes.  Many are interconnected. I will spare you the details but this one links Warriors and Quiet Waters, the Montana Chamber Society, the Bozeman Symphony, the Museum of the Rockies, Eagle Mount, the recent Bozeman Gun Show, and the MSU Alumni Foundation. Rejoice in the result and resolve to somehow contribute in 2014.  
Carol Clarke Smith might win the IM (individual medley) in Bozeman’s pool of opportunities to participate in good causes. Here is her story:

My motivation for creating the VFFS stems from my experiences as a volunteer for Bozeman’s Warriors and Quiet Waters. My favorite job was hosting spouses of Vets for a day of camaraderie. Their stories were heart wrenching. Unlike their military husbands, these courageous women are untrained for the battles of life at home. What most impressed me was their strength, determination and commitment to make their family’s lives as normal as possible, in spite of overwhelming medical circumstances that face so many of our returning Veterans. It is always warming to send them home knowing they were able to laugh, cry, bond, and yes, learn to fly fish in our beautiful Montana! (The first recipient of my scholarship is Saul Martinez’s wife, Sarah)! In a serendipitous meeting, Sean Gifford, former president of the Veteran’s Association at MSU, an alum, and veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, told me of the scholarship needs of spouses of veterans. While the GI Bill covers veterans’ tuitions, spouses are not covered.   As a member of the MSU Alumni Foundation Board, I asked our president, Michael Stevenson, what our foundation was doing for our veterans’ spouses support.  Answer — nothing…yet.  There was a matching gift MSUAF program in place.  Through this match,  $12,500 became a $25,000 scholarship. If only I had the $$$ I could make this happen.

An unanticipated sale of her family’s business in Illinois gave her an opportunity.  Carol Clarke Smith opened a new checking account.  Her first check for $12,500 established the initiative. Then she provided a second check for the same amount. With the match, this provides $50,000 in scholarships for spouses. Carol concludes with this: “Establishing the scholarship is my humble and infinite gratitude to those in the military that have defended our freedom and our great country. Big hugs to the spouses, children, parents, siblings, of our vets. Thank you.”
Carol feels goodand so will you. To contribute, contact Tyler Wiltgen, Principal Gifts Officer: (406) 994-3743, [email protected]
Editor’s note: Carol’s “windfall” also funded a contribution to the MSU President’s Fine Arts Series and the newly formed Bridger Biathlon Club at Bohart Ranch.

Keeping the Resolutions

2014 has arrived, and chances are you’ve made a resolution or two for the coming year. Whether it be better grades, losing weight, or finding better relationships, it’s a great time to make those changes you’ve been putting off until now. Problem is, though, many fail to keep those resolutions. Fear not; we’ve compiled a few tips for keeping those resolutions as you head into the new semester.

The “drinking more than everyone else” resolution should be reconsidered.

Don’t expect to completely reinvent yourself.

“New year, new me” is a delightfully overused Facebook status this time of year, but that attitude alone sets you up for failure. It’s all too easy to make the mistake of taking on too many resolutions; and it can create a domino effect when one does not work out. So instead of resolving to attain a 4.0 GPA, lose 50 pounds, get a better job, save a thousand dollars, and discover the fate of the Amelia Earhart; choose one or two and give them your all.

Set goals that can be gauged.
“Do better in school” is certainly an admirable resolution, but also incredibly vague. How can your success be gauged? Instead, set a specific goal to attain. Try to choose a goal that can be achieved with incremental success along the way, so if the goal is to improve grades; keep track of your individual assignments along the way to keep your eye on the prize.

“I passed Econ!”

Keep the resolutions reasonable.
Ambition certainly isn’t a bad thing; it’s what keeps our world moving forward. Sometimes, though, we overestimate ourselves as we set our resolutions, and feel the sting of failure when they don’t work out. Carefully consider what you think is within your power to accomplish. Instead of shooting for bench-pressing 400 pounds by the end of the year when you have yet to break 200, pick a goal inbetween. Besides, if you surpass what you expected to do, soldier forward and you might just accomplish what you never thought you could.

Slow and steady for reaching those resolutions, don’t go overboard.

With all of that in mind, here are some helpful articles for common New Years resolutions:

Weight Loss
Shedding Those Winter Pounds
Working Out for Credit
Avoiding the “Freshman 15″

Improving Grades
Senior Advice

Frugal Use of Money
Frugal Fun

Start Now for a Future Career
Bozeman-Area Careers

Do you have any tips for keeping resolutions? Let us know in the comment section.