Help a Hero Scholarship Hits $12 Million Mark in 10 Years

This fall, VFW and Sport Clips are celebrating the 10th anniversary of their joint scholarship program

Ed Tjaden’s journey from serving with the 2nd Bde., 1st Armd. Div., in Iraq in 2008 to becoming an attorney in the St. Louis, Missouri, area was helped, in part, by VFW’s Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship.

“If it weren’t for you guys, we wouldn’t be where we are,” Tjaden said in 2018 prior to graduating from law school. “I just can’t say enough good things. VFW transformed my law school experience.”

Air National Guard veteran Abbey BergStudent veteran Abbey Berg has a similar sentiment. She has served with the Air National Guard based out of the 133rd Airlift Wing in St. Paul, Minnesota, since 2019.

In her third year studying nursing at Bethel University in St. Paul, Berg was awarded a $5,000 VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship for the current semester.

Her husband, an Air Force veteran, told her about the scholarship after he previously received one.

“He opened my eyes to it,” said Berg, who deployed to Al Udeid Air Force Base in Doha, Qatar, with the 8EAMS Squadron in 2021. “I plan to pursue a master’s in nurse-midwifery at Bethel, which is a 10-month program. After that, I would like to get a job as a nurse-midwife.”

Berg and Tjaden are two of the nearly 2,600 veterans supported by VFW’s Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship since 2013. In the past 10 years, more than $12 million has been awarded to veterans and service members wanting to further their education. The program provides scholarships to active-duty troops and veterans to attend college or trade schools.

“To have the opportunity to hear from our student veterans across the world has been inspiring,” VFW Programs Director Lynn Rolf said. “We have a chance to shape the country much like the WWII generation did. Our veterans achieving educational success towards their goals to better themselves and our country will indeed leave a mark on our society for generations.”

The partnership between VFW and
Sport Clips began long before 2013. In
2007, Sport Clips became the “Official
Haircutter of the VFW” and thus began
their support of VFW’s Operation
Uplink Free Call Days, offering free
phone calls home to deployed troops.
Once troops began returning from
Iraq and Afghanistan in large numbers,
there was not the demand for Free
Call Days. That is when the Help a Hero
Scholarship program was born.
“When we launched the Help A Hero
Scholarship program in 2013 in partnership
with the VFW, we had been supporting
phone calls home for active-duty
service members since 2007, but we
knew we wanted to do more for veterans
and their families,” Gordon Logan, Air
Force veteran, VFW life member and
founder and chairman of SportClips
said. “We believed this scholarship
would be impactful, and we quickly
realized how life-changing it was for
these recipients. For so many, it was the
difference between staying in school and
completing their degree or abandoning
their educational dreams. I look forward
to the impact this program will continue
to have on our nation’s heroes.”
For seven consecutive years, Sport
Clips has donated at least $1 million
to the program, which awards up to
$5,000 of assistance per semester, per
family for service members and veterans
in the rank of E-5 and below.
“Sport Clips has brought new meaning
to the phrase, ‘Help a Hero,’” VFW
Foundation Director Lisa Baronio said.
“Sport Clips understands the needs of
veterans and how to change their lives
and the lives of their families.”
The most recent Sport Clips donation
of $1.5 million in January included
$143,000 from Sport Clips franchises.
Nearly half of that amount came directly
from haircut proceeds on Veterans
Day 2022, while Sport Clips clients
donated the most generous portion of
money raised in stores and online.
“The VFW is amazed at the generosity
of Sport Clips clients, its team members
and its partners,” VFW Adjutant
General Dan West said. “It is their kindness
and eagerness to support America’s
veterans that makes this scholarship program
To celebrate 10 years of Help a Hero,
a LinkedIn group page is being created
to help connect past and current scholarship
Additionally, upcoming golf tournament
fundraisers in North Carolina,
Colorado, Arizona and Wisconsin will
be hosted by Sport Clips team leaders.
“We are positioning ourselves, with
the help of Sport Clips, as the organization
everyone looks to as the standard
bearer and example to look to,” Rolf
said. “I see us in the future as the team
that made an incredible impact. We are
capturing stories now of how the veterans
benefited, and I cannot wait to see
what they do for our country.”
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