As a professor, Karla Seijas is used to talking in front of an audience, so it’s no surprise that she’s a skilled speaker. She lives in California, so over a Zoom call, her bubbly personality emulates through the computer screen as she chats about becoming a member of HOPE’s largest Military Spouse and Caregiver Scholarship Class to date.
Karla was granted an Honorary Scholarship, which she’s using to pursue her Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Humanities with a focus on Political Anthropology. She’s excited and thankful for the scholarship, which will help with her education costs.
“It validates the research I’m doing, gives me the pick-me-up, and gives me the drive to keep going,” Karla says.
Her research has already been used to introduce legislation in the California legislature to improve education policies for post-9/11 military dependents, and that’s just the beginning. She wants to continue making a difference, focusing on how public policy affects post-9/11 military families.
Karla has always been motivated by helping others, but 15 years ago, when she became a military spouse, that passion shifted to service members, veterans, and their families. She fully immersed herself in the culture, working on base and using her skills to help service members work through their struggles. Assisting them helped her have important conversations with her husband, who served for 20 years, which included combat support during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
As a caregiver, she has seen first-hand the struggles that come with the job. Her husband suffers from invisible and emotional scars of war and PTSD. “I know what triggers him and what doesn’t,” she says. A lot of people don’t talk about PTSD. Karla’s family does.
“My kids [a 10-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy] know about it; they talk about it. We don’t want to hide anything from them. “Maybe that opens the conversation to other people,” Karla said.
Transparency is a theme for Karla, who realized that a lot of the research being conducted or published about military families nationwide is predominately done by those who don’t have connections to the military. “I wanted to change the voice of that,” she said. She wants to be a voice for military spouses who find themselves in situations where they’re underemployed or unemployed.
“My determination and motivation towards researching unemployment and underemployment for military spouses stem from knowing what it is to hold a full-time job, be a single parent while your spouse is deployed or TDY (Army Temporary Duty) for a long period of time and handle everything else in the household,” she said. “Military spouses are determined and find a way to persevere despite the challenges they face.”
Since the program’s inception, Hope For The Warriors has granted 212 Military Spouse and Caregiver Scholarships totaling $554,907.
The 2023 fall scholarship application is open from March 1- April 30. For more information on the Military Spouse and Caregiver Scholarship Program, click here.