CALAIS, Maine (AP) – A businessman who wanted to make it easier for returning soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan to get a college education came through with a $1 million donation to help send soldiers to school.

Joe Boulos, chairman and owner of CB Richard Ellis/The Boulos Co. real estate firm, said he wanted to make it possible for soldiers to attend any community college in Maine for free or use the money toward a four-year university.

“We created this scholarship as a way to say thank you to our servicemen and women who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Boulos said. “I hope this scholarship shows Maine veterans how proud we are of their service to our country.”

Application is first-come, first-served, but the scholarship can be used at any regionally accredited Maine college or university.

The scholarship amount is based on the average cost of tuition for a two-year degree program at a Maine Community College, and each recipient will receive $4,080 to be applied to the two-year program.

“We’ve already identified several people that we know have already returned or will be returning soon who will be students here,” said Cynthia Moholland, assistant dean of enrollment management at Washington County Community College.

A Marine pilot in Vietnam, Boulos said he didn’t like the way soldiers were treated when they returned from that war, and he said he worries about comparison being made between Vietnam and Iraq.

Last December Boulos threw a party for military members and their family. He threw the holiday party inside the former Service Merchandise building in recognition of the troops’ service. He said the event was an emotional one.

The event was dubbed the “Next Greatest Generation Tribute.”

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