By Adam Jerome, I-O Reporter
   Grateful Nation Montana was created after founders and businessmen with Montana ties, David Bell and John McCarrick realized that the families of fallen Montana soldiers were not being fully provided for.  
   Bell is the son-in-law of Conrad resident Gale Gustafson.  Gustafson also sits on the board of directors for Grateful Nation Montana and is the local contact for the program.
   Bell comments, “We assumed like many people that if one of our soldiers is killed in the line of duty than they would be provided for financially by the government, but it is clear that it is just not the case.”
   To date, 29 soldiers from Montana have been killed in conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.  This makes Montana the highest per capita casualty rate state in the United States.  These deaths have left 23 children ranging from eight months old and upwards without fathers.  
   Grateful Nation Montana is a non-profit organization that was formed with the specific purpose of facilitating college educations for the children of soldiers killed while in active duty in either Iraq or Afghanistan.  GNM
Grateful Nation Montana not only helps with the financial burdens of college, but also mentoring and tutoring during the children’s high school years as to make sure the student is academically and emotionally prepared for college.  
   The University of Montana has joined efforts with GNM.  President George Dennison convinced the Board of Regents to incorporate the program into the University of Montana Foundation.  
   Grateful Nation has designed an outreach program that will be available to them during their junior high school years. In conjunction with the colleges and universities, the outreach program will include invitations to campus events (sporting events, homecomings, theater events to name a few) scholastic tutoring by faculty members and students, and counseling for emotional or family issues. With regular exposure to campus life combined with tutoring assistance and counseling, these kids should grow up confident that they will succeed in college and beyond.
   U.S. Senator Jon Tester and U.S. Congressman Denny Rehberg have both pledged their support to this noble endeavor.  Tester comments, “I believe that we all share a responsibility to care for the men and women who have put their lives on the line to serve our Nation, and we have a moral duty to ensure that the families of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice are cared for.
   I am pleased to offer my support to the work of Grateful Nation Montana in the hopes that their work will successfully provide for the post-secondary education of these children.”
   Rehberg also adds,” This innovative scholarship program has opened the door of higher education for many of Montana’s finest young people.  Grateful Nation Montana will only continue to grow and prosper.
I am pleased to offer my support to Grateful Nation and the youth of Montana.”
   On March 31, NBC aired a piece on Grateful Nation Montana in their Nightly News segment entitled, “Making a Difference”, with Brian Williams.  Since airing, GNM has been flooded with calls from individuals from all over the U.S.  Many concerned citizens have asked how they can model a similar program after Grateful Nation Montana in their own state.
   Thanks to GNM, children with parents who have died fighting for the American Dream are able to realize it.
   All donations may be made directly to Grateful Nation Montana c/o the University of Montana Foundation and 100 percent goes to fund the outreach/ mentoring and post-secondary education costs at any one of the post-secondary schools comprising the University of Montana System for the families who have lost a parent in either the Iraq or Afghanistan Wars.
   For more information contact Montana Director Gale R. Gustafson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.