The state of Missouri provides a wide variety of benefits and services to veterans. Most of these programs are administered by the Missouri Veteran’s Commission, a state agency specifically tasked with aiding veterans and their dependents. Often though, veterans aren’t aware of the commission or the services it provides. To help raise awareness and to facilitate access to veteran’s programs, Missouri’s lieutenant governor fills the role of the state’s veterans advocate.
Although our current lieutenant governor is not a veteran himself, he is a strong supporter of those who have served. The lieutenant governor travels to each of Missouri’s veteran’s homes and cemeteries at least once a year, usually more. He also regularly visits Fort Leonard Wood, Whiteman Air Force Base, Rosecrans Air National Guard Base and the other military facilities around Missouri.
I believe the lieutenant governor is one of Missouri’s most accessible statewide elected officials. He constantly attends public events throughout the state and that exposure puts him in contact with countless veterans and provides the opportunity to hear their concerns. Whether he’s facilitating a connection between a veteran in need and the appropriate government office or sharing information about veterans benefits during one-on-one conversations, the lieutenant governor is regularly the public face of Missouri’s veteran’s programs.
Missouri veterans enjoy a wide range of benefits and services, most of them administered through the Missouri Veterans Commission. The commission’s services are available to veterans, survivors of veterans or parents who have lost a son or daughter in military service. With staff located in West Plains, Poplar Bluff, St. Robert, Springfield and Branson, assistance with veteran’s issues is convenient to every resident of the 33rd Senatorial District. I encourage all veterans to visit mvc.dps.mo.gov to find an outreach officer near you. Once online, look for a handy reference guide to services and benefits available to veterans.
The range of veteran’s services and programs Missouri provides is truly impressive. The Veterans Commission operates seven residential skilled nursing facilities throughout the state. All veterans who declare residency in Missouri qualify for in-state tuition at our public colleges and universities. Another program helps veterans transition to teaching careers. There are also benefits to help veterans enter the workforce or launch a business. Veterans are given preference when bidding for state contracts or applying for small business loans. Other programs reimburse job training costs for employers who hire veterans. The attorney general provides legal assistance for veterans. The Department of Health and Senior Services assists veterans living in nursing homes.
Services to veterans and military families could expand further if legislation currently introduced this year becomes law. Senate Bill 673 streamlines professional registration requirements so military spouses with professional licenses or certifications in other states will be able to work in Missouri while the family is stationed here. Similarly, Senate Bill 718would make it easier for spouses of active duty military members stationed in Missouri to obtain teaching certificates. The bill also designates November as Missouri Military Family Month and expands veteran’s services provided by the attorney general’s staff and the state long-term care facility ombudsman.
If you have questions about veterans services in Missouri please call the Missouri Veterans Commission at 573-751-3779, or contact the lieutenant governor’s office at 573-751-4727. You can also call my office. As a military veteran myself, I am committed to making sure your state government is responsive to the needs of veterans, members of the military and their families.
As always, I appreciate it when groups from around Missouri and from our community back home come to visit me at the Capitol. If you would like to arrange a time to come and visit me in Jefferson City, or if you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact my Capitol office at (573) 751-1882.