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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • New S&T group formed to help student veterans

  • A luncheon held at the Havener Center on the campus of Missouri University of Science and Technology Thursday brought together veterans on campus as well as members of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and officials from the local Veteran Administration (VA) for the launch of Missouri S&T's Student Veteran Association.
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  • A luncheon held at the Havener Center on the campus of Missouri University of Science and Technology Thursday brought together veterans on campus as well as members of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and officials from the local Veteran Administration (VA) for the launch of Missouri S&T's Student Veteran Association.
    Garrett Coffey, president of this new group, said he was pleased with the turnout of more than 30 people. The 25-year-old engineering management major said the group became official last year.
    "I wanted to make it better for vets on campus," he said. "My hope is that every vet can achieve their educational goals."
    Congressman Jason Smith, of Missouri's Eighth District, served as the midday gathering's keynote speaker.
    "What you are doing with this group of brothers and sisters in helping each other in getting an education is extremely important," Smith noted. "You couldn't ask for anything better than to have a student veterans group at S&T."
    He noted that when he goes to speak at schools, the children often will talk about how football players and rock stars are the role models of today.
    "However, the real heroes of today are the ones who have served for us," he said.
    After his introductory remarks, Smith fielded a number of questions and heard comments from veterans dealing with the gap between leaving the military and the reception of benefits due to a VA backlog. He encouraged those with unique situations to contact his office in Rolla.
    "People are rewarded for doing nothing and people who are doing everything, serving and giving up everything are not rewarded," Smith added. "This is a debate and fight that we (Congress) have all the time. It seems so logical but  getting things through is not always easy."
    According to Steve Tupper, Missouri S&T's liaison at Fort Leonard Wood, there are around 90 veteran faculty and staff on campus and more than 200 students.
    One of those is Ron Ruess, of Festus, who served in the Marine Corps for five years.
    He told the Daily News that there is often a military mindset that service men and women do not need help. However he said he is pleased with this new group.
    "A veteran with a degree in his pocket is one of our most valued citizens," Tupper said.
    He added that often the new generation of veterans do not fit in with other students.
    "They have a different perspective on things," Tupper said.
    Kory Effinger of the local VFW agreed.
    "These young vets are a unique demographic. They are not recent high school grads nor are they 15 or 20 years out of the service," Effinger explained. "So it is a group that relies on the strengths of each other."

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