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Mizzou Making Campus, Policies 'Veteran Friendly'

Aug. 22, 2007

Story Contact:  Christian Basi, 573-882-4430,

COLUMBIA, Mo. — As veterans return from active duty in Iraq and other spots around the globe, universities and colleges across the country are expecting an increase in the number of veterans going back to school or returning to work on campus. In an effort to make the transition as smooth as possible at the University of Missouri-Columbia, Chancellor Brady Deaton has announced the creation of a “veteran friendly” task force that will examine a variety of areas that affect veterans and other military personnel returning to campus as students or employees.

“I expect our campus to lead the way in ensuring that America's veterans and service members are welcomed and supported as they join or return to the University community,” Deaton said. “We are already working hard on behalf of these students, faculty and staff, but I want this task force to look into additional steps we could take to do better. Student-veterans and employee-veterans often encounter obstacles and needs that are more multifaceted than those faced by other students and employees. Improving opportunities for veterans, especially those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, is increasingly recognized as a national responsibility. We are very proud of their sacrifices and want to honor their service.”

The committee will examine existing areas such as financial aid, housing options, credit transfers, departmental advising, work accommodations and the availability of networking. The task force also will examine the possibility of a one-stop process for re-enrollment and providing mentors for younger veterans.

“Mizzou currently has about 250 students who are veterans on our campus and a number of faculty and staff that have returned from their tours of duty,” said Carol Fleisher, co-chair of the committee. “In addition to an increase in the number of veterans returning, we have seen a lot of additional activity as some soldiers have had multiple tours of duty. It's important that we examine all of our processes to make sure that those veterans returning are able to reintegrate into the Mizzou family as quickly and easily as possible.”

The task force is composed of 21 representatives from students, faculty, and staff at Mizzou, most of whom have some connection to the military. Roger Worthington and Lee Henson are co-chairing the task force along with Fleisher.

“We have assembled a very large and highly qualified group of dedicated people to serve on this task force,” Worthington said. “We are looking forward to beginning our work together and making rapid progress toward our goals. I am honored to be affiliated with this group of talented people.”

Recently, officials from the U.S. Department of Defense representing the National Guard and Reserve recognized MU as a Five-Star Employer for the University's support of its employees that are in the Guard and Reserve. The support is in the form of specific policies and procedures at the University.

“I am glad to see MU taking this important step,” said Brig. Gen. Larry Kay, assistant adjutant general of the Missouri Army National Guard. “The Missouri National Guard looks forward to working with the task force and believes MU can provide statewide and national leadership in helping veterans pursue postsecondary opportunities.” Kay also has offered assistance to the veteran friendly task force.

To obtain a Five-Star designation, employers must complete the following: sign a statement indicating support for the Guard and Reserve; ensure that human resource policies comply with the provisions of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA); train managers and supervisors about USERRA so they can effectively manage their employees who are in the Guard and Reserve; provide extra support over and above that required by the law; and support the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) program by becoming a spokesperson for the ESGR and being actively involved with the Missouri ESGR committee.

Mizzou's “extra support” for military employees comes in the form of the University's military leave policy that pays employees for up to 120 hours of military service during each federal fiscal calendar year.