Even on this holiday, Kristen McPadden is never far away from her studies. Right now she's at Broward College but her next stop is FAU - none of it possible without the Florida based Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation.
"I was searching for foundations that provide grants and scholarships to students in my position which is my father is a deceased veteran," said Kristen McPadden. "And the VA was about to cut off my education benefits."
Major Kevin McPadden started his military career in the Navy but ended up as a Major in the US Army. He died when she was 15 years old.
"He was a nurse," McPadden said. "He had a degree in psychology and he really cared about helping people."
Kristen told us the government benefits from her dad's service weren't enough to launch her own medical career as a researcher and that's when the foundation stepped in to cover the cost.
She is one of the more than 5 thousand students across the country getting assistance. The children of fallen patriots has paid over $7 million in expenses for educational counseling and college scholarships. Its outreach director spoke to us from Jacksonville.
"We estimate there are between 15 and 18 thousand children who could use our services," Eric Heineman of the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation said. "And with that being said that's one of the challenges we face is that we have about 5400 of those currently in our data base so we are about a third of the way there finding all the families and children we want to service."
With the country now at war over two decades in Iraq and Afghanistan--sadly the number of students like Kristen has grown.
"It means everything to me. I was trying to find some way to repay them even though I can't really do much," McPadden said.
McPadden says she has two brothers of college age who weren't aware of the program. To find out more, visit www.fallenpatriots.org.