SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Losing loved ones to war is a heavy burden many military families experience —leaving many single-parent households with financial struggles.
Brianna and Anthony Pallanes said education wasn’t even a consideration when they lost their dad, as they worked to figure out how to move forward with the hole left behind and the life changes that came with it.
“I didn’t have anyone teach me how to shave. I didn’t have anyone to teach me, like any of these things to go play catch with,” Anthony Pallanes explained.
Brianna said the pace of life lost all sense of normalcy: “It was like a lot of bouncing around and it was very difficult.”
The Pallanes children were all under the age of eight when their father U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Jason Pallanes died. The military member passed away in a training accident in 2004.
“Mexico is where my mom’s family’s from, and she came over when she was in high school, and then after that, she joined the military. She was full-time in the Navy. She served for 20 years before she retired, and she had to do all of that with a 4-month-old baby when my dad passed away,” Anthony Pallanes described.
He said the emotional toll from losing his dad wasn’t the only burden his mom carried. As a single parent, she struggled with how to put her kids through school.
“Every parent is scared to be a parent, but she had the burden of being both a mother and a father to all of us. And she walked that line every single day by herself, never letting any of us know because she didn’t want any of us to worry about her,” Anthony Pallanes explained.
Children of Fallen Patriots, a nonprofit organization, has put around 2,200 students through college over the past 20 years. Each of those children came from families who lost a parent in the line of duty.
“Knowing that I have like two younger brothers, I got to go to school after me and like having to pay out of pocket for that I would it would have been like a lot. It was a lot of emotional burden lifted off of me,” Brianna Pallanes said. She was only 4 years old when her father died.
As a recent graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design, Brianna said her dream to be an animator wouldn’t have been possible without financial support.
Anthony Pallanes, a former scholarship recipient who also graduated debt-free, now works for the nonprofit.
“Whenever I reach out to students and I’m giving them scholarships and they have any questions, I can answer it because I went through the exact same thing. I’m a huge proponent of paying it forward. So I’m just glad to be able to help other people who might be in the same situation,” he said describing what it is like to be a scholarship administrator to students experiencing a similar loss to what he went through.
Any child who has lost a parent in the line of duty can apply for scholarships and educational counseling provided by Children of Fallen Patriots. Click or tap here to learn more.