If Carol Fleisher had to guess how many time she has moved in her lifetime, the number would be upward of 40.
“I can pack a brown box faster than you can believe,” said Veterans Center director Carol Fleisher said.
Growing up, Fleisher’s father’s service in the Air Force was a major part of her life. His occupation required the family to move frequently.
Fleisher said Rome, N.Y., was her favorite place to live because of the snow and winter activities, such as ice skating. She said it was fun moving every two to three years.
“I enjoyed it — there were always new faces and new people,” Fleisher said. “But you have to understand that in the Air Force, often every time you move you see someone you know.”
Fleisher didn’t finish out a full year of school in the same location until her sophomore year of high school.
But the moves didn’t stop there.
After graduating college, Fleisher married into a different military branch: the Navy. In the first 26 years of marriage, Fleisher, her husband and two sons moved 28 times. And she only counts the big, cross-country moves.
“When you move and get to the new place, you know that you’re there temporarily,” Fleisher said. “You still want to make it a home, so you put up the pictures and move the furniture around.”
Though frequent relocations were challenging, the times her husband was away weren’t any easier.
“It’s pretty bad because in the navy, they’re gone a lot,” Fleisher said. “I was relatively lucky in that my husband was gone for shorter periods of time, unlike the army. He was a pilot so he would be away from eight week to three months at a time.”
The community on base was always supportive, she said, and all of her friends were in the same boat — literally.
“The car would quit, the plumbing would back up — things like that would always happen as soon as they walked out the door,” Fleisher said. “It was always sort of challenging.”
Fleisher said the worst part was getting sick and not being able to care for her kids, but another family on base would always step up and help.
“You build a lot of close relationships. You depend on each other,” Fleisher said. “It’s not bad, it’s just a different way of life.”
But Fleisher’s work with those in the military didn’t stop at home.
As director of the Veterans Center, Fleisher works daily with students that have served our country.
“My favorite part is being able to accomplish something,” Fleisher said. “The feedback is fantastic from the veterans. They’re very appreciative and that’s always a nice thing.”
Fleisher said student veterans do very well academically and tend to be very focused. They have their goals and priorities put together. The Veterans Center helps student veterans achieve these goals by providing the resources, support and friendships necessary for success.
“I hear a lot from the veterans that they’re in a hurry to graduate,” Fleisher said. “The reason is they’re already older and think they’re behind. When they accomplish that and graduate and move on with their life, it’s exciting to see that come true for them.”
But Fleisher’s hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“As we started having more veterans coming back, she started taking care of them,” said Barbara Schneider, a friend of Fleisher’s and business school director of admissions and recruitment. “She has created such a strong, supportive environment here at MU for our veterans.”
Ann Korschgen, Vice Provost for Enrollment Management, said in an email that Fleisher is the best advocate for veterans that she has even known. Korschgen said she recognized this a long time ago when she witnessed Fleisher help students establish the Mizzou Student Veterans Association.
“Carol is a great combination of passion and expertise — which is a perfect mix for someone serving our veterans,” Korschgen said in an email. “For example, her expertise has helped MU navigate all the changes in the recent years in the VA benefits for student veterans and her passion has helped make our Veterans Center one of best, if not the best, in the country.”
Schneider said she thinks Fleisher is the central person that made the Veterans Center happen. There have been others that have participated, but she’s really the core of it, Schneider said. She said Fleisher’s got their best interest at heart.
“She’s been an inspiration because she’s doing something really important,” Schneider said. “She cares so much about those veterans. She understands them. She advocates for them, and that’s a great way to be a staff member and contribute to the university.”
Fleisher said it is gratifying to be at a university that does wonderful things like working to make campus more veteran friendly and veteran comfortable.
“It’s a good thing to do for the right reason for the right people,” Fleisher said.