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Scholarship change eyed for survivors of Idaho soldiers

Posted at 3:08 PM, Jan 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-02 17:42:48-05

BOISE, Idaho — Legislation prompted by the deaths of three Idaho Army National Guard pilots killed in a helicopter crash during a training exercise last year has been introduced.

The House Education Committee on Tuesday approved a hearing for the measure that would change the law to make the spouses and children of Idaho military personnel or public safety officers killed during training eligible for college scholarships. They're currently available only to survivors of those imprisoned, missing, killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty.

“What it would do is update it to make sure that the dependents either the spouses or children of fallen soldiers and sailors are eligible for their scholarship even if their parents do not fall in combat. So it would include training which is what we experienced last year during that Black Hawk crash,” Democratic Rep. Chris Mathias of Boise said.

The Armed Forces /Public Safety Officer Dependent Scholarship offered by the Idaho State Board of Education waives tuition fees and grants up to $500 per semester for books plus on-campus housing to Idaho undergrad students who are children or spouses to military members of public safety officers.

"All of the military veterans in the legislature attended the memorial service and I remember sitting in my seat watching the widows and their children grieve," Mathias said. "I called the State Board of Education’s office to just confirm that the children of the fallen soldiers would be eligible for the scholarship and they told me they would not be because the way the legislature wrote this statute in 1972, is that your parent in combat and training doesn’t count."

Mathias said the change could help the spouses and eight children of the guardsmen killed in the February 2021 Black Hawk crash near Boise.