Mizzou has a long history of interconnectedness to veterans and the military. Mizzou has more than 400 current students who have served or are on active duty. ROTC groups have been fixtures on campus for decades and continue to be so today. Memorial Student Union stands as a tribute to the many Mizzou men and women who gave their lives in defense of our nation, and the University has many groups, organizations and offerings related to military and veterans. With Veteran’s Day approaching, we wanted to take a moment to share more about this important part of the Mizzou family.
In the fall of 2018, MU Chancellor Alexander Cartwright formed a Mizzou Standing Committee on Military and Veterans to see how we can improve and expand on programs and initiatives designed to serve our students, faculty, staff and friends who are veterans, National Guard members or reservists. He asked us to co-chair this committee, which is comprised of faculty, staff, students, alumni, supporters and friends from across the mid-Missouri area. We thought this was an appropriate time to share some of the progress Mizzou has made in this area, and also extend an invitation to you to participate in any and all of these activities.
Our committee focused on five areas – improving outreach to potential students who are veterans; improving success of veteran students who are at Mizzou; improving campus climate and awareness of veterans and their unique characteristics; better connecting various veteran groups and organizations; and enhancing the intersection of research mission and veteran/military opportunities.
Our group started with a survey of all faculty, staff and students that resulted in more than 700 responses including suggestions for events, communication, awareness training and ways to improve the support we provide to our students, faculty and staff.
We are preparing to increase our presence with area military bases to share the opportunities that exist for continuing education at Mizzou. We are also making various process changes to increase the success of our veteran students in their educational pursuits. This includes removing financial barriers and ensuring that the advising and support services are available to students.
Our successful Green Zone Training program is designed to help the larger campus community better understand the unique characteristics of our veteran students and the experiences they may have had. This program will be ramped up in the coming months to encourage participation by more faculty, staff and students.
We celebrated Mizzou’s designation as a Purple Heart University in the Spring, and also shared in the dedication of an expanded MU Veterans Center in Memorial Student Union that now provides much more space for veterans to study, socialize and participate in organized activities.
This past May, we held the first campus-wide reception for graduating students who are veterans, and also provided a special coin and stolls for veteran students who participated in commencement. A working group is developing a number of additional event ideas designed to bring together veterans to share experiences and engage the larger campus community.
This past year, the Mizzou Veterans Law Clinic continued to serve veterans who face challenges in navigating paperwork related to their benefits, which also provides wonderful opportunities for our law students to gain experience. We launched the Tigers for Troops initiative this past year that provides a resource to veterans across the state in a partnership with Extension and the Law Clinic.
As you can see, there are many things happening in this area. And this will be even more obvious as we prepare to celebrate Veterans Week at Mizzou in November. It began earlier this week with a free concert by the United States Air Force Band in Jesse Auditorium on Wednesday evening.
We have a Veteran’s Clinic Symposium on the role of attorneys in military and veteran issues from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, November 8, at Hulston Hall, Room 7.
We have a joint Mizzou ROTC Veterans Day Vigil at 11 a.m. Friday, November 8, near the war memorial at the Boone County Courthouse. There will be a detail marching every hour from Nov. 8 to Nov. 9, coordinated by the AFROTC, Detachment 440.
We have a Veterans Day Parade at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, November 9, beginning near the Boone County Courthouse.
Then on Monday, November 11, we will have the annual Wreath Laying Ceremony and Reception on the east side of Memorial Union at noon with a reception following in the Bengal Lair in Memorial Student Union.
We are featuring the Green Zone program, Understanding Veterans, Military and ROTC at Mizzou from 10:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12, in Memorial Student Union. Contact the Veterans Center at 573 884-4388 to respond to this invitation as space is limited.
You can create a custom card to thank veterans in the triangle space of the MU Student Center between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Wednesday, November 13.
On Friday, November 15 there is a student veterans Banquet that is invitation only. The banquet provides student veterans with an opportunity to socialize and network.
And we conclude Veteran’s Week with the Military Appreciation Game at Memorial Stadium when the Tigers take on the University of Florida on Saturday, November 16.
We hope you will take some time to participate in these activities and thank the MU faculty, staff, students and alumni who have served our country.
Marty Oetting, Chief of Staff, Office of the Chancellor and Robert Ross, Director, MU Veterans Center
Co-chairs of the Chancellor’s Standing Committee on Military and Veterans