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Filling the Financial Hole

Operation Education Helps Veterans Fill the Financial Hole

The campus will honor veterans on Military Appreciation Night during the March 5 men’s basketball game.

(February 23, 2011)

Aaron Carew, who served seven years in the U.S. Army, is now back at school at UC Riverside.Enlarge

Aaron Carew, who served seven years in the U.S. Army, is now back at school at UC Riverside.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – After completing seven years in the U.S. Army, Aaron Carew decided it was time to go back to school.

He had already completed his general education requirements while serving in the military. When he came to UC Riverside to complete his bachelor’s degree in theater with a focus on writing, the GI Bill covered many of his expenses including tuition, books and some living expenses. But it did not pay for prep-study and tutoring to help him pass the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

“Since I don’t work, I wasn’t sure how I would pay for that,” said Carew, who hopes to continue go to grad school at USC. “Passing that GRE was not just a necessity, it was a requirement.”

Enter Operation Education, a scholarship program designed to help post-9/11 veterans with a service-connected disability to pay for things not covered by the GI Bill and other sources of financial aid.

“My money is already spent on rent, bills and living expenses,” said Carew. “Operation Education helped to fill in the holes and stretch my dollars out a little further. It’s just so generous.”

Carew will be among those being honored on March 5 during Military Appreciation Night when UC Riverside men’s basketball team takes on UC Irvine. All active, reserve, retired military and their dependents are invited to attend the 7 p.m. game free of charge.

The March Air Reserve Base color guard will present the colors and Kit Fugrad, UCR theater major and Air Force veteran, will perform the national anthem. All UCR students, faculty and staff as well as those from the Riverside community who served in the military will be honored during halftime ceremonies. Tickets may be obtained by contacting the UC Riverside Athletics Ticket Office at (951) 827-4653.

UCR’s Operation Education, which kicked off last spring, is modeled after a program by the same name started by Karen White, , wife of UC Riverside Chancellor Timothy P. White, when they were both at the University of Idaho. Operation Education is the nation’s leading assistance program to help disabled veterans earn a college degree.

This fall four students were the first to receive support. Carew will graduate this spring and another will graduate next year. The other two are transfer students who will continue their education on campus for at least two more years.

White has been busy visiting local businesses and organizations, working to raise support for the program, which is funded almost completely with private donations.

“I’m speaking around the area to try to get the word out about the program and there seems to be quite a buzz,” said White. “I am excited at the interest that people have in helping this worthy group of students who are returning to continue their education after serving our country.”

The Riverside County Board of Supervisors recently presented White with a $3,000 check for Operation Education.

“In these economic times, money associated with education is not an expense, it’s an investment that will pay us back several times over,” said Marion Ashley, the District 5 supervisor who championed the county donation. “This program is important because of Riverside County’s well-documented history of supporting military, which goes back to the establishment of March Air Force Base.”

Operation Education Quick Facts:

  • Operation Education provides funding for education-related expenses, including adaptive equipment, counseling, child care, specialized medical care, personal care, off-campus transportation, tutoring, individually prescribed devices or equipment, and other costs not covered by the GI Bill.
  • The program is open to honorably separated U.S. military veterans with service-related injuries sustained since Sept. 11, 2001. Priority is given to veterans with disabilities that resulted from action in a combat zone and those who are local residents.
  • Applicants must meet university requirements for admission as a degree-seeking student, and must enroll full time. Scholarship recipients must meet standard financial aid need requirements and must first use other funding sources.
  • To allow flexibility and individualization, the program is being kept small. Four students currently are being assisted through the program. As funding grows, four or five recipients will be added each year, with a maximum of 20 students at any given time.
  • Military spouses may also apply for assistance.
  • The program takes a holistic approach, addressing the financial, educational and social needs of the veterans and their families by combining the expertise of Veterans Affairs, Financial Aid, the Counseling Center, Student Special Services, faculty advisers and other related campus service offices.

Aaron Carew, who served seven years in the U.S. Army, is now back at school at UC Riverside.Enlarge

Aaron Carew, who served seven years in the U.S. Army, is now back at school at UC Riverside.

Military Appreciation Night is Saturday, March 5 with game time at 7 p.m.

Military Appreciation Night is Saturday, March 5 with game time at 7 p.m.


The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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