April 16, 2012

Jefferson City - Missouri is among the top ten states in the nation for enrolling post-Sept. 11 veterans in college.

The number of veterans enrolled in college in Missouri who are receiving the post-Sept. 11 education benefit grew from 7,512 in 2010 to 11,592 in 2011, making Missouri ninth in the percentage of growth among all states. The numbers are expected to swell as troops withdraw from the Middle East.

Only the states of Iowa, West Virginia, Vermont, Oregon, Georgia, New Hampshire, Maryland and North Carolina had higher rates of post-Sept. 11 GI enrollment growth.

The Department of Veterans Affairs, which funds the post-Sept. 11 veterans benefits program, has paid out nearly $18 billion to fund the program, which has attracted 435,000 participants since it went into effect August 1, 2009.

Returning veterans can face difficult transitions from active duty to a college campus. Most Missouri institutions of higher education have special services to help them adjust to college life and find the support they need to succeed in college.

Missouri State University at West Plains provides a "one-stop shop" for veterans called the VIP (for Veterans Incentive Program) Center. Coordinator Mark White says the center provides tutoring and counseling for the veterans. "We try to make them feel like they're part of a family," White said.

The veterans face numerous obstacles, particularly those who were exposed to mortar fire and explosives. "The classroom environment is important to them," White explained. "For example, some need to have two escape routes visible at all times. We help them determine a physical placement in the class where they can relax and concentrate on studies."

White said the center helps veterans acclimate to civilian and campus life, providing counseling for such challenges as short term memory loss, post-traumatic stress disorder and anger management. "Their lives have changed. There are new demands on them," White said. "We provide academic and personal counseling, or refer them to the VA or other groups that can help."

Missouri institutions of higher education are rising to the challenge of meeting the special needs of veterans, according to Commissioner of Higher Education David Russell. "We can expect to see more and more post-Sept. 11 veterans on college campuses as troops withdraw from military engagement," Russell said. "Colleges and universities are welcoming returning veterans with unique support systems, ranging from tutoring to counseling to formal events that recognize their contributions to the country. We welcome the veterans to campus and look forward to their academic success."


Note to reporters:

Information on programs and contacts for quotes about veterans programs at colleges and universities in Missouri include:

Columbia College, Information for Veterans, Keith Glindemann, [email protected]

Crowder College, Shirley Burns, [email protected]

East Central College, Lorrie Baird, [email protected]

Jefferson College, Information for Veterans, Betty Dye, [email protected]

Lincoln University, Information for Veterans, Craig Galbreath [email protected]

Linn State Technical College, Cheryl Probst, [email protected]

Maryville University, Information for Veterans, Martha Harbaugh, [email protected]

Missouri Southern State University, Information for Veterans, Denise Vigil, [email protected]

Missouri State University, Information for Veterans, Jenifer Kautzman, [email protected]

Missouri State University- West Plains, Information for Veterans, Mark White, [email protected] 

Missouri University of Science and Technology, Information for Veterans

North Central Missouri College, Information for Veterans, Megan Stout, [email protected]

Northwest Missouri State University, Information for Veterans, Marge Stoner, [email protected]

Ozarks Technical Community College, Dennis Peters, [email protected]

Southeast Missouri State University, Chris Seyer, [email protected]

Southwest Baptist University, John Credille

St. Charles Community College, Information for Veterans, Tomi Schwandt, [email protected]<mailto:[email protected]

St. Louis Community College:

Three Rivers College, John Fuller, 573-840-9606

University of Central Missouri, Information for Veterans, Delilah Nichols, [email protected]  

University of Missouri-Columbia, Information for Veterans, Carol Fleisher, [email protected]

University of Missouri-St. Louis, Information for Veterans

Westminster College, Tom Dobbins, [email protected]

William Jewell College, Information for Veterans, Karen S. Weatherford, [email protected]