MU receives 'Military Friendly' title for sixth year

The MU Veterans Center has provided services for veteran students since 2007.

MU has received the title of a “Military Friendly” campus by Victory Media for the sixth consecutive year.

MU was among 1,400 schools out of 3,000 applicants to receive the title this year. The school was evaluated on five criteria: on-campus military support, credit acceptance, school-offered tuition assistance, spouse and dependent benefits, and flexibility with scheduling and course completion requirements.

“We care about our veterans,” said Carol Fleisher, director of the MU Veteran’s Center. “That is the most important thing. So, I was just tickled that we received it.”

The evaluation criteria were developed with help from veteran employees of Victory Media to help veterans pick a school best suited to their needs.

“Military Friendly was founded as a way to help military members and veterans be able to better judge what to do with the next major phase of their life,” said Tristan Germann, recruiting specialist for Victory Media. “We want to give them the best information related to their life as we can.”

The MU Veteran's Center was established in December 2007 after a taskforce of student, faculty and staff veterans from the MU Student Veterans Association submitted a 42-page proposal to then-Chancellor Brady Deaton.

“He adopted the whole thing,” Fleisher said. “And we were one of the first schools to have a veteran’s center. The other two schools to have one before us were Pennsylvania State University and Mississippi State University.”

Calling themselves a “full service, one-stop shop,” the center aims to provide a solution to any problem, concern or issue a veteran may come to them with.

“If we don’t have an answer, we find out,” Fleisher said. “We don’t make them go to different offices to find a solution. We pick up the phone and we make the calls. Many centers don’t do that.”

Out of all its services, Fleischer said the center prioritizes peer mentoring and support services. She said the center is a place for veterans “to call their own.”

Kevin Melkowski said he shares that feeling. A first-year graduate student in computer science, Melkowski came to MU as an undergraduate after retiring from the U.S. Navy in 2010.

“I found the center by Googling ‘Mizzou veteran’s center’ and a number popped up,” he said. “I was talking to them before I even got to MU. If it was not for the center, I would have been here without a lot of people to talk to.”

Melkowski said even though the center was helpful and “should never go away,” MU is not always veteran friendly.

An example he gave was the implementation of the Returning Heroes Act, which caps tuition at $50 per credit hour for all student veterans regardless of their class standing.

“It should be that the tuition cap is applied before all our other grants, which go toward paying for housing and food, but instead, MU applies all the grants and the tuition cap is applied to the remaining amount,” Melkowski said. “That makes the grants and the cap worthless.”

Despite that, he said he thinks MU is deserving of the Military Friendly title because “they really try, which is more than I have seen in other schools.”

“They offer free tutoring at the Student Success Center, which really helped me with my classes,” he said. “I became a tutor myself to give that service back.”

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