I joined the Air Force in 1997, just after graduating high school, and met my husband Jeff in Technical Training school. Shortly thereafter, Jeff was accepted into the pilot training program. I knew then it was unlikely we would be stationed together, so I decided to step back from the Air Force and support his career. Although it was a tough decision, it is one I have never regretted.
In July of 2004 Jeff became a First Assignment Instructor Pilot. Four years later we moved to Alaska where he began flying his dream airplane—the C-17. By now, we had two little boys and we were loving life, enjoying the Alaskan outdoors and watching Jeff doing what he loved. Little did we know that our lives would soon be changed forever.
On July 28, 2010, Jeff’s plane went down during a training mission, killing all four crew members on board. In a moment I went from military wife to military widow and single mother of two. I was thrown into a position I never thought I would find myself in, yet there I was. In the years following Jeff’s death, my family and I have had to figure out how to maneuver through life without him by our side. While the journey hasn’t been easy, we are finding our way.
Having been a stay-at-home mother for so many years, figuring out what to do next was daunting. Knowing first-hand just how difficult it can be to pick up the pieces after a devastating loss, I realized that I could use my story to encourage others dealing with similar experiences.
With this new purpose, I sought a degree program that would give me the knowledge and experience needed to accomplish my goals. I knew of course, that education would come with high expenses, and as a single parent, I wasn’t sure how I would ever afford this. After moving to Minnesota in 2014, I discovered the Folds of Honor Foundation, and after submitting my application, I couldn’t believe it when I had been chosen as a scholarship recipient!
The Folds of Honor scholarship allowed me to pursue my mission to help others and afforded me the opportunity to care for my family without the additional stress of financial burden. I can’t even begin to express the peace of mind that brings. After my husband’s death, Folds of Honor showed me that there truly can be a light at the end of the tunnel.
As both a scholarship recipient and a military veteran, I can’t thank everyone enough for their generosity. Though words cannot describe my gratitude, from the bottom of my heart I thank everyone that has given to the Folds of Honor Foundation. It is the generous donors that make each Folds of Honor scholarship possible.
I am so proud to be part of this amazing organization. I am proud to say I am a veteran and proud to say I am a military widow, for my husband gave his life in service to this great country. Together, we will never forget the sacrifices that have been made, nor the people who made them.