MU announces new partnership between MU Veterans Clinic and Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital

The new Veterans Wellness Center will offer a greater focus to veterans attending the university.
The School of Law Veterans Clinic’s new addition, the Mizzou Veterans Wellness Center, is located in the library of the law school.

MU announced its School of Law Veterans Clinic will collaborate with the Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital to increase support offered to student veterans. The new section will be called the Mizzou Veterans Wellness Center, with a focus on mental health and the lives of veteran students and staff on campus.

The MU Veterans Clinic is located in the back corner of the Law School library, in a set of offices specifically designed to feel wide open and inviting to those suffering from combat-related mental illness.

Each Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. a clinical health psychologist will come from the hospital to work with students struggling with the balance between post-service issues and school.

“All of us at Truman VA really want to reach out to all the veterans we can, and make it as easy as possible to get the services they need and deserve,” Randall Rogers, one of the clinical health psychologists who will be working with the center, said.

The partnership also helps bring the entire veterans’ aid system to one place.

“It’s really geared toward helping Mizzou veteran students and then also faculty and staff veterans by giving them easier access to VA healthcare and having somewhere they can easily go to on campus to meet with somebody,” Brent Filbert, clinical director of the veterans clinic, said.

Providing mental health services on campus specialized for veterans is new. The Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans Hospital currently offers those services but is on the south side of campus across from the University Hospital.

“Instead of expecting them to come to us, we thought that if we were on campus, it would be easier for them to take the first step into getting some treatment,” Rodgers said.

Currently, the Veterans Clinic offers advice and aid to veterans from current law school students. Their services include helping clients navigate the system of veterans' benefits, to finding specific eligibility for each individual. The center also helps veterans upgrade military discharges due to reasons like PTSD or mental illness.

“We help veterans anywhere,” Filbert said. “Primarily in Missouri, but we have veterans from all over.”

The clinic has helped veterans from 20 different rural counties and will reach 73 within the next two-year period, Filbert said. The clinic has worked with 140 clients overall and achieved $4 million in recoveries for represented veterans.

The clinic also teaches law students how to work cases involving the veteran benefit system, while also teaching students the importance of pro bono work.

Filbert told the story of a previously assisted veteran who was on patrol during the Vietnam War, “he gets shot in the leg by a sniper, and as he’s falling backward after getting shot, he shoots the sniper out of a tree and kills the sniper, saving many of the people in his squad.”

The soldier was then evacuated via helicopter out of the jungle and to a hospital for recovery.

“That experience had a very negative impact on him just in terms of his emotional state,” Filbert said. “He had some minor difficulty in the army and was discharged with an other-than-honorable discharge. So, for 35 years he had lived with that idea that even though he had been in combat and done all these things, he was left with this piece of paper that said he had not served honorably.”

The Veterans Clinic took his case and filed an application to have his discharge upgraded. His discharge was upgraded to a full honorable discharge, and he was given two medals for valor that had never been awarded to him.

“When you get a call like that, it makes you realize it is all worthwhile,” Filbert said.

The importance of helping the on-campus veteran community was stressed the most with the collaboration.

“We are very eager to help student veterans,” Rogers said. “We want to do anything to help them succeed in college.”

Edited by Laura Evans | levans@themaneater.com

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