Veteran Services and ROTC receive $350,000 gift to help veterans and ROTC grads with financial emergencies

Veteran Services and ROTC receive $350,000 gift to help veterans and ROTC grads with financial emergencies

Veteran Services and ROTC receive $350,000 gift to help veterans and ROTC grads with financial emergencies
June 21
18:35 2019

The UNT veterans program and ROTC detachments will have an estimated $350,000 in donation and endowment funding.

Bette Barsanti Sherman and her husband Robert donated the money June 21 and the bulk of it will be going to helping out veterans and ROTC graduates with financial hardships.

Bette is the daughter of U.S. Army Major General Olinto Barsanti, who served in the Army’s 101st Airborne Division.

“I believe the military is the future of the country,” Bette said. “I believe we cannot survive as a country without a good, strong, educated military and veterans. We are in debt to the veterans that have served. We have an obligation to help those who want to serve.”

Robert’s parents served as faculty members of UNT.

“A lot of the names on buildings here were people who were on the faculty when I was growing up here, [they] lived across the street or lived next door,” he said.

Student Veteran Services director Jim Davenport said the gift will help veterans who are in “financial emergencies.”

“The car has broken down, the VA doesn’t pay them, or their financial aid is hung up, if they’re unemployed — there’s some things where we can give them a couple of hundred dollars or $1,000 to get the car back on the road so they can get to class, to make up for the payments that the VA hasn’t made [or] their book stipend,” he said. “We can give them money for that.”

Davenport said last-minute financial emergencies can happen in a variety of situations.

Since many veterans tend to come to college at an older age with families, the slightest financial emergency could set them back, Davenport said.

“They end up having to relocate,” Davenport said. “There’s a lot of relocation expenses [so] they use their savings to do that [or] something out of the blue hits them – that’s enough to sink the ship.”

He also said receiving the money was humbling.

“It was an honor for me just to be sitting at that table,” he said. “Not so I could feel big and important, it was just that I was sitting up there next to some very fine people. The Shermans are very well known for their kindness and generosity. I’d like to think that I worked hard to convince them, but I don’t think it took much convincing because I think their heart was leaning that way anyway, they’re just those type of people.”

Having additional funding for an ROTC program will also make it more accessible and improve the retention rates, Davenport said.

“A lot of people drop out of ROTC due to finances,” he said. “ROTC is not as easy as people think it is. A lot of those kids are down there working jobs and going to school at night and trying to hold it all together. It’s a great opportunity for them.”

Davenport said the increase in funding is about helping others get help.

“We help people for the right reasons for the right things,” he said. “Now we can help more.”

Featured Image: Bette Barsanti Sherman and Robert Sherman formalize their donation at a signing ceremony in the Gateway Center at UNT in Denton, Texas on June, 21, 2019. Photo by Jelani Gibson

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Jelani Gibson

Jelani Gibson

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