American Legion Legacy Scholarship recipient Kenneth Wilder.

‘Our future is secured with the help of The American Legion’

Alexander Menke and Kenneth Wilder share a few things in common, although the two 19-year-olds have never met. About 14 years ago, both of them lost their military father during a time of war and, as a result, are recipients of The American Legion’s Legacy Scholarship.

The Legacy Scholarship has provided children who lost a parent while honorably serving on active duty on or after 9/11, financial aid for higher learning since its inception 16 years ago. And now children of post-9/11 veterans with a combined VA disability rating of 50 percent or higher are eligible to apply for the scholarship, starting with the 2017 application.

“The fact that I lost my father (U.S. Navy Cmdr. Kurt Menke) greatly affected the financial situation of my family and therefore my ability to pay for college. I am more than just thankful for The American Legion Legacy Scholarship,” said Menke, a Boys State alum from Andover, Kan. “The Legacy Scholarship has allowed me to reduce the cost of attending Texas Christian University (in Fort Worth) and that is very calming.”

For Wilder, the opportunity to attend college was a chance to fulfill both his father’s and his dreams.

“My father (National Guard Spc. Kenneth Jerome Jones) wanted so badly to go to college but couldn’t as he had to support his sick mother after high school. (By going to college) I am keeping my father’s legacy alive … and I’m achieving both of our dreams,” said Wilder, who is attending the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va. “With The American Legion Legacy Scholarship, I was able to purchase necessary college supplies, like a laptop, which allows me to worry less about everyday stresses that come with getting an education.”

The scholarship helps pay for the expense of graduate or post-graduate tuition, books, room and board, meal plans, transportation and other supplies needed to achieve a higher education.

“The Legacy Scholarship gives families who don’t necessarily have the same financial situation as other families a better chance to achieve their dreams and aspirations,” Menke said.

Recipients of The American Legion Legacy Scholarship may reapply up to six times for up to $20,000 in financial assistance. The grant amount each scholarship recipient will receive will be based on his or her financial need after all federal and state aid is exhausted.

The Legacy Scholarship application for 2017 is online for new and returning applicants to fill out. The application deadline is April 20. Apply online here.

“It can be hard to live on without a parent, especially those who served our country,” Wilder said. “But children, like myself, can grow up knowing our future is secured with the help of The American Legion who make it clear that we haven’t been left behind and our future is important.”