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    Northwest student vets reach out to support their battle buddies

    Northwest student vets reach out to support their battle buddies

    Photo By Jennifer Archdekin | Here, the Northwest Student Veterans Association logo.... read more read more



    Story by Jennifer Archdekin 

    Missouri National Guard Public Affairs Office

    MARYVILLE, Mo. – Students and faculty at Northwest Missouri State University are coming together to assist fellow veterans, current service members and military spouses to make an easier transition into the academic community. The Northwest Student Veterans Association provides camaraderie and support to enhance the student veteran experience.

    Dr. Mark Corson, faculty adviser for NWSVA, said this group promotes a safe place for veterans who want to interact with other veterans for mutual support.

    “Veterans helping veterans is a good thing,” said Corson. “They are able to represent the needs of student veterans to the university and the administration. Northwest is a vet friendly place and really embraces and takes care of veterans.”

    Corson is a geography professor and chair of the Department of Natural Sciences at Northwest. As a brigadier general who currently serves with the Army Reserves, and has two tours of duty in Iraq, he understands what some of these student veterans encounter. In his 30 years of military service he has been a student, an educator and a soldier.

    “Our veterans are not a threat,” said Corson. “They are a huge asset and we need to, not out of any sense of charity or obligation, even though there is an obligation for their service, we need to nurture them, we need to invest in them.”

    In years past there has been a veterans association at Northwest, but it has gone through some ups and downs. Corson attributes the instability to the past decade of war when many Guard and Reserve troops were deploying. He now believes this group is postured to establish roots and become a quality resource for students.

    “We are going into a new phase,” said Corson. “The result is that we have an increasing number of student veterans coming to campus to go to school. We still have our Guard-Reserve component, but more and more we have traditional veterans that have separated from the service and are using the GI Bill on a smaller scale, which is a repeat of what happened after World War II.”

    In Sept. 2012, G.I. Jobs Magazine named Northwest a military friendly school for 2013 in recognition of the university’s commitment to recruiting military students. The designation ranks Northwest among the top 15 percent of all colleges, universities and trade schools nationwide that deliver the best experience for military students. G.I. Jobs surveys more than 12,000 institutions to help military personnel, veterans and military dependents find the schools best suited to meet their needs.

    Sgt. Jonathan Sielaff, NWSVA student president and Missouri Guardsman, said there are about 100 people on their organization’s distribution list. The group consists of veterans and service members, as well as family members of veterans who may be utilizing the GI Bill benefits afforded to them.

    “Approximately half of our attendees are National Guard or former National Guardsmen,” said Sielaff.

    Sielaff serves as a forward observer with Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 1-138th in Kansas City. He has been a citizen-soldier for eight years and in 2007 deployed to Afghanistan with Battery B, 1-129th in Chillicothe.

    Like Sielaff, Corson pointed out that there is a wide range of student veterans at Northwest. Those may include students currently serving in the Guard or Reserves, some who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan, and even non-traditional students that may have served in Desert Storm. While some veterans have closed the military chapter in their lives, Corson said others still want to be involved in a network of fellow veterans.

    “Many of them are highly desirous of doing that,” said Corson. “To be perfectly honest some of my best therapy has been hanging out with some of my battle buddies, wingmen or shipmates telling war stories because there’s not many people that can relate.”

    It is Corson’s belief that NWSVA and Northwest want to focus on this new generation that has served and still is serving.

    “Just like the greatest generation after World War II, who took advantage of the GI Bill to essentially make the country what it is now, this new generation of veterans is going to make that same type of contribution,” said Corson.

    The next item on the horizon for NWSVA is procuring a veterans center on campus. Corson said there are several campus agencies who are interested in helping make that dream a reality, as well as representatives from the Missouri Army National Guard armory that neighbors the campus.

    “There’s a lot of demand for space on campus so we have to make sure it’s going to have the bang for the buck,” said Corson. “It would be multifunctional—a safe space, a comfortable space, and also a space where they can access resources.”

    For more information about NWSVA contact them at



    Date Taken: 04.09.2013
    Date Posted: 04.11.2013 12:03
    Story ID: 105027
    Location: MARYVILLE, MO, US 

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