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Willis College to offer scholarships for veterans’ families

The Learning Together Veteran and Family Scholarship will offer free tuition to 80 military family members over the next two years.

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“We realize as much as there is a lot of potential resources available to veterans, there aren’t as many opportunities for families of those veterans,” said Willis College CEO Henry Devlin during Monday's scholarship announcement. “We realize as much as there is a lot of potential resources available to veterans, there aren’t as many opportunities for families of those veterans,” said Willis College CEO Henry Devlin during Monday’s scholarship announcement. Photo by Ashley Fraser /Postmedia

A new scholarship program at Willis College will collectively provide over $2 million in tuition funding for families of veterans.

The Learning Together Veteran and Family Scholarship will offer free tuition to 80 military family members over the next two years to acknowledge the sacrifices made by military family members and improve their access to education opportunities.

“We realize as much as there is a lot of potential resources available to veterans, there aren’t as many opportunities for families of those veterans,” said Willis College CEO Henry Devlin.

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“We’re very excited to be one of the first schools in Canada to be recognizing that without a good support system, it’s hard for the military member to do what they do.”

The scholarship was created to provide veterans’ spouses, children and other immediate family with better access to new opportunities and stable employment.

Every veteran who enrolls in a Willis College program will be eligible to nominate one immediate family member for a scholarship to any of the institution’s programs at any of its campuses in Ottawa, Arnprior, Winnipeg or online.

“What really stands behind a veteran and allows them to travel across this country and go on various missions in their career? It all came back to family,” said Devlin in an interview following the program’s announcement at Willis College’s Ottawa campus.

“Let’s be one of the first educational institutions in this country that stands forward and says, ‘it’s time to recognize both the Veteran and the family behind them.’”

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The college offers employment-oriented programs in business, technology, healthcare, design and photography, providing students with “practical” and “transferrable” skills so students are “job-ready” as they enter a new career, Devlin said.

“In today’s labour market where skilled, qualified workers are in high demand, our programs provide veterans and their families a leg-up when they’re ready to integrate into the civilian workforce.”

City councillor Matthew Luloff, who represents the Orléans wards and co-chairs the city’s veterans task force, attended the press conference on Monday showing support for the program.

“What this is going to do is give some agency to the people who have been essentially dragged around the country for the entirety of one of the parent’s career,” Luloff said. “I think that is such an important and incredible recognition and something that we are very, very glad to support.”

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Although the program has created 40 scholarships each year until 2024, Devlin hopes this is just the start.

“This is about making a difference…If we have to expand our numbers, if we have to rethink the model, then so be it,” he said. “Wouldn’t it be great if the original plan of 80 turned into a couple hundred over the next two years. We wouldn’t see that as a failure. We’d see that as an incredible success.”

Applications to the Learning Together Veteran and Family Scholarship are open now and will be accepted over the next two years.

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