Saturday, January 2, 2010

Bullets, bombs, bills and books?

2 veterans help others battle debt
In exchange for donations, vets do community service under charity's auspices

By Bonnie Miller Rubin

Tribune reporter

January 2, 2010

It was past midnight in December 2003, when Roy Brown, a 23-year-old soldier serving in Iraq, experienced a life-changing moment.

Ironically, it didn't happen in combat but while the South Sider was on the phone, doing battle with a bank over his college loans.

"I'm on the other side of the world, worrying about (bombs) and where my unit would be moving next, and some loan officer is harassing my mother over $82.67," said Brown, shaking his head. "I just felt so disheartened and let down."

His high school pal, Eli Williamson, dealt with similar phone calls while overseas: "You can't even print what I was feeling."

But the disappointment and anger were followed by action. Once back home in Chicago, the two soldiers used their experiences as motivation to launch a nonprofit called Leave No Veteran Behind, dedicated to relieving the educational debt of those who have served in the military.

Brown and Williamson, both 29, have found office space on LaSalle Street, assembled a board of directors, connected with donors and erased the tuition bills of two servicemen and enrolled another 100 or so applicants, all of whom have been dogged by college bills.

Leave No Veteran Behind uses private donations to pay off a veteran's outstanding loans. In exchange, the soldier commits to 100 hours of community service, which helps provide purpose for someone who might have difficulty re-entering civilian life.
read more here,0,7557334.story

No comments:

Post a Comment

If it is not helpful, do not be hurtful. Spam removed so do not try putting up free ad.