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Around the Columns

Honoring past veterans, helping new ones

memorial union

The new MU Veterans Center is centrally located in Memorial Union with increased space and resources for former and present military students and employees to utilize. Photo by Rachel Coward

On Veterans Day 2010, the MU Veterans Center opened the doors in a more central location in Memorial Union with increased space and resources. The expanded office helps students throughout mid-Missouri, whether they plan to enroll at Mizzou or elsewhere.

Anthony Olson of Annandale, Va., who served with the Marines in Iraq in 2004, cites the center as the main reason he transferred to MU from a Maryland community college in 2008.

“Not only do we have this entire center dedicated to veterans, but we also have the Missouri Student Veterans Association,” says the history major. “It really helps so that you don’t feel like you’re alone on an island.”

As a Marine who “reads way too much” about history, Olson has always appreciated the display of fallen World War I and World War II veterans in the Memorial Union archway. But he has also wondered why those killed in the Korean and Vietnam wars are absent. Now, with help from the Veterans Center and the Missouri Historical Society, he is composing that list for a plaque he hopes will someday hang with the other names.

“They deserve just as much honor as the World War I and II vets,” Olson says. “Ultimately, it’s the same sacrifice, whether the war was popular or not.”

Olson’s gratitude for the facility echoes his gratitude for his fellow veterans. The center has helped him with G.I. Bill entanglements, introduced him to some of his best friends and served as a campus haven. It’s an experience that was unavailable to Vietnam veterans who were generally treated poorly when they returned to civilian life.

“You come home, and you try to pick up your life where you left off,” Olson says. “The war in Iraq isn’t popular, but I never experienced that type of negative sentiment.”