Fallen Troops Leave Behind Young Families

(JACKSONVILLE, Fla.) – Nearly 20,000 dependents have been left behind by troops killed in the line of military duty over the past 35 years, research conducted on behalf of Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation found, and many of the surviving families struggle to make ends meet. 

Released today, the research establishes the first-of-its-kind data available on the families of fallen troops. Currently there is no centralized tracking system of children who have lost a parent in the armed forces. Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation is the leader in finding these children, with approximately a quarter of the nearly 20,000 identified to date in its mission to honor the sacrifice of military heroes by ensuring the success of their children through college education.

Significant findings from the research, conducted by The Lucas Group, include:

  • Nearly 60 percent of dependents left behind by an active-duty parent’s death are under age 12
  • 27 percent were younger than five years old at the time of their active-duty parent’s death
  • More than $500 million is needed to give these children college educations

What happens when a hero doesn't come home? 

Lori Kleppe struggled to raise her young children alone as a widow. When her husband Ed, a Navy pilot, was killed in a helicopter accident, the family had a one-year-old son, Drew, and another little boy, Evan, on the way.  The future of her sons weighed heavily on Lori’s mind.

“Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation changed my family’s life.  My children were able to graduate from college and pursue their dreams without having to worry about the burden of paying back student loans.  It made such a huge difference for their futures and helped them in a way that I couldn’t,” said Lori.  

This new research, combined with an internal survey of the widowed spouses Children of Fallen Patriots helps, reveals the outlook for many surviving military families is grim. Sixty percent of surviving spouses make less than $50,000 per year. More than half of the respondents indicated they have trouble making ends meet for their families.

“We can act together to turn tragedy into triumph,” said David Kim, founder of Children of Fallen Patriots. “Investing in these children’s college educations is our privilege, our honor and our duty as Americans. It is the key to the brighter future that our fallen service members wished for their children.”

Surviving families face many challenges as they navigate their new lives alone: 

  • Government programs do not cover the full cost of college nor do they reach all the deserving children and not every surviving family is aware of this help 
  • The process of finding and applying for help is confusing and burdensome for children of families
  • Help is generally available only in small increments

Children of Fallen Patriots works to find each and every one of these children and give them the future they deserve. Visit fallenpatriots.org to help today.

About Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation

Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation honors the sacrifices of military heroes by ensuring the success of their children through college education.

Since 2002, Children of Fallen Patriots has provided more than $7.5 million in college scholarships, supplemental grants and educational counseling to military children who have lost a parent in the line of duty. Nearly 20,000 children from all across America will need future assistance. Help today by visiting fallenpatriots.org.

The Lucas Group’s analysis is based on numerous primary data sources including Pentagon Reports, the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), Freedom Future Reports, the Department Of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and DCAS, among others. A full download of more information and additional detail is available at fallenpatriots.org.