veterans

Drury University named a Military Friendly School for sixth year

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., November 10, 2016 — For the sixth year in a row, Victory Media has recognized Drury University as a Military Friendly School. The 2017 Military Friendly Schools list was announced today and honors the colleges, universities and trade schools doing the most to embrace America’s military service members, veterans and their spouses as students.

“Drury is proud and honored to receive this recognition yet again for our exceptionally strong programs that help our transitioning service members, veterans and their families earn a college degree,” says Aaron Jones, Dean of Drury’s College of Continuing Professional Studies and Chief of Staff. “Drury has always been known of taking a personalized approach to working with students, and that is especially true when it comes to working with those who have a military background.”

Military Friendly Schools align their military programs and services with employers to help students translate military experience, skills and training into successful careers after graduation. Victory Media’s Military Friendly Schools website features interactive lists and search tools to help military students find the best school to suit their unique needs and preferences. Those selected by Victory Media exhibit leading practices in the recruitment and retention of students with military experience.

 

Drury will host its annual Veterans Day Celebration at 11 a.m. Friday at the Plaster Gallery in the O’Reilly Family Event Center. Students, faculty and staff will be available for media interviews.

For more information on how Drury helps veterans find academic and career success, go to http://www.drury.edu/military.

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Drury students offer veterans free portrait photos this month

Drury University photography students are again taking portraits of veterans and their families, free of charge, this November.

The project began several years ago as a way of giving back to those who have served our country while also allowing commercial photography students to hone their studio skills.

Jessica Barrows 2

Jessica Barrows and her two children

Abraham Clark, who was in the Marine Corps for 10 years in the 1960s and 70s and served in Vietnam, is a repeat customer – he’s been getting his photo taken by Drury students for a few years now.

“I’m about to run out of poses,” he jokes.

Clark says he finds the Drury students to be professional and kind. He enjoys getting to know them during the shoots, especially international students. He wishes more veterans would take up the opportunity.

Abraham Clark

Abraham Clark

“The thing about photos is they’re memories for families for a long time,” he says. “Sometimes we don’t do this, and then later the family doesn’t have anything to look back on. So I think it would be great if people took advantage of this for their families.”

The shoots begin on Saturday and run through next weekend. There are 50 slots available. Rebecca Miller is Drury’s Art, Art History & Arts Administration program chair and organizes the event, though students ultimately run the shoots.

“The students are on their own to take the photographs and solve any challenges that may come up like lighting, posing, energetic children, or even crying babies,” she says. “A lot of the time I’ll be working in my office making a family’s CD of the images and I hear a lot of laughter coming from the studio, which is always a wonderful moment. Many times I’ve stood outside the studio and just observed our students interacting with the community members and they always delight me with their abilities to solve problems, be professionals, and work together as a team.”

Cody Stepp was one of those students last year. He graduated in May with a degree in graphic design and visual communication. He says the candid shots in which veterans let some of their personality out were the most challenging, but also the most enjoyable.

“It helps engage you as a photographer because you’re investing in these people because they’re opening up a side of themselves to you,” Stepp says.

For example, Clark has worn Native American ceremonial clothing to reflect his heritage. Joe Snider, a 1953 Army draftee who served in Korea, sported a cowboy hat last year.

“That’s my uniform,” says Snider, who has family roots in rural Wyoming. “That’s what I wear. I’m a western man.”

Clark appreciates the opportunity for the portrait, but says he thinks the students get just as much out of the experience.

“Everybody has a different exposure, a different experience,” he says. “So I think it’s good when you put all of these people together. It’s good exposure for the kids.”

For more information or to make a reservation, contact Miller at rmiller01@drury.edu or (417) 873-6337.

Joe Snider and his wife, Dee.

Joe Snider and his wife, Dee.

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Drury students offering free portrait photography to military families

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Oct. 26, 2016 — Drury University photography students will again offer free family portraits to active duty military personnel and veterans during the week of the Veterans Day holiday. This is the sixth year for the project, which allows commercial photography students to give back to those who have served our country while also sharpening their photography skills.

Jessica Barrows

“The students benefit from being able to photograph people from a variety of backgrounds and generations while applying the technical and communication skills they’ve learned in the classroom like studio lighting, camera operation, and interacting with the people they are photographing,” says Rebecca Miller, the program chair for Art, Art History, and Arts Administration at Drury.

“I’ve enjoyed getting to meet so many veterans over the years and hear their stories about time spent serving our country and their life experiences outside the military,” Miller adds. “Whether it’s a family of 10 or a single veteran, the interaction our students have had with those who have served our country in this indispensable way has been invaluable to their educational experience. It is an honor for us to take their photographs and we thank them for their service.”

The portraits are open to the first 50 families that make a reservation. The portraits are photographed in the Pool Art Center, 940 N. Clay Ave., at the following dates and times:

Saturday, Nov. 5 – 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 8 – 1:30 to 4 p.m.

Thursday, Nov. 10 – 1:30 to 4 p.m.

Saturday Nov. 12 – 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

For more information or to make a reservation, contact Rebecca Miller at (417) 873-6337 or rmiller01@drury.edu.

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Drury criminology program is helping at-risk veterans

Alumni, faculty and students in Drury University’s criminology program are helping turn around the lives of at-risk veterans thanks to an innovative court program.

The Veterans Treatment Court in the 39th Judicial Circuit (Barry, Lawrence and Stone counties) provides substance abuse and mental health-related treatment services for veterans who have been arrested for felonies. The idea is to “wrap” services around them and help them with heavy supervision in lieu of prison time. Drug courts have been around for decades, but courts for specialized populations like veterans are a newer concept.

“We focus on high-risk, high-need offenders,” says Shawn Billings, treatment court administrator for the 39th Circuit. “The only real difference is they’re veterans.”

Billings, an alumnus and current adjunct instructor, wrote a proposal to secure a three-year federal grant worth $800,000 with help from professors Vickie Luttrell and Jana Bufkin of the Behavioral Sciences Department. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded the grant through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The team works closely with the Veterans Administration (VA) for service referrals.

Shawn Billings, left, and Shae Dunaway, discuss cases during a staff session of the Veterans Treatment Court. (CREDIT: Aaron J. Scott)

Shawn Billings, left, and Shae Dunaway, discuss cases during a staff session of the Veterans Treatment Court. (CREDIT: Aaron J. Scott)

“It’s a combination of a mental health court with a drug and DWI court, with the addition of a team partner in the VA,” says Judge Scott Sifferman, who oversees the docket.

Veterans often bear “invisible scars” from their service, Sifferman says, which can lead to PSTD, family strife, addiction and even homelessness. That’s why a specialized focus on this population is helpful, he says.

It’s already making an impact.

“I totally have a different outlook on life – a more positive outlook, for sure,” says Cory Dodson, a 31-year-old Army veteran who was arrested for possession of a controlled substance about a year ago.

Cory Dodson

Cory Dodson

Dodson served in Iraq in the early 2000s and says he was addicted to opiates for years after leaving the service. He credits the Veterans Treatment Court and his wife for getting his life back on track.

“Within 90 days of being in the program and being off drugs, we managed to put the money together to buy our first home,” says Dodson, also a father of five girls. “It’s been a 180. I feel like I have so much to live for now.”

Junior criminology major Shae Dunaway is the program coordinator. The full-time job provides her real-world experience in the criminal justice system before graduation. She says she wants to help remove stigmas associated with offenders who are turning their lives around. She points to participants such as Dodson as an example of someone who is helping himself with the support of others.

“The transformation is incredible and they are worth every bit of the time and money we put into them,” she says.

The 39th Circuit Veterans Treatment Court team.

The 39th Circuit Veterans Treatment Court team.

Billings says Drury’s focus on relationship building is a natural fit for criminologists who want to use the justice system to improve lives.

“Drury centers on people; that’s important,” he says. “That’s basically what I’ve based my career on for the last 20 years – serving people.”

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By Mike Brothers, director of media relations. A version of this story originally appeared in the Springfield News-Leader.

Drury photography students offer free family portraits to veterans

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Nov. 9, 2015 — Commercial photography students at Drury University are doing their part to thank those who have served our country by offering free portraits to military veterans and their families. The project, now in its fifth year, is led by Rebecca Miller, associate professor of Art & Art History and coordinator of the photography program at Drury.

The service is open to the first 50 families who reserve a time slot. Slots remain open at the following times and dates:

  • 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 10
  • 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 12
  • 10 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 14

To make an appointment, contact Rebecca Miller at (417) 873-6337 or rmiller01@drury.edu.

“We are so thankful for the service and sacrifices our veterans and their family members have given in support of our country and its citizens,” Miller says. “We are humbled to offer these photographs of celebration and thanks, which also provide our students with an engaged and personalized classroom experience.”

Media outlets interested in covering this project may also contact Miller to discuss the best times and dates to do so.

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Media Contact: Rebecca Miller, Photography Program Coordinator. Office: (417) 873-6337; email: rmiller01@drury.edu.

Drury to host Flag Day ceremony Thursday

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., June 10, 2015 — Drury University will host a Flag Day ceremony at 11 a.m. Thursday at the Armed Forces Plaza outside of the O’Reilly Family Event Center. The event is free and open to the public.

The local chapters of the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution will join Drury for this celebration of our nation’s colors. Sons of the American Revolution member J. Howard Fisk will present a special recognition from that group, and members of the Daughters of the American Revolution will lead the Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem. Aaron Jones, Dean of the College of Continuing Professional Studies, will also give remarks. Cake and refreshments will be available following the ceremony.

Officially celebrated on June 14, National Flag Day was established by Congress in 1949 to commemorate the day the flag of the United States was adopted by the Second Continental Congress in 1777.

Drury’s tradition of serving those who have served our country dates to the days following World War II, when buses brought soldiers from Fort Leonard Wood to classes held on the Springfield campus. Today, one of Drury’s 11 branch locations is at Fort Leonard Wood.

The commitment continues today, as Drury has been named a “Military Friendly School” by Victory Media and was ranked No. 3 in the Midwest on U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges for Veterans” list. Drury is also a supporter school of the Order of the Purple Heart. Drury supports federal initiatives that help veterans and active-duty service members apply for, pay for and complete their degrees and has designated staff to help coordinate these services.

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Expert on ‘moral injury’ to speak about work with veterans on March 31

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Mar. 13, 2015 — Drury University will host the Rev. Dr. Rita Nakashima Brock, an internationally recognized expert on the emerging study of moral injury as a result of combat, for a lecture at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 31 in Clara Thompson Hall. The event is free and open to the public. Brock is a research professor of theology and culture at Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University.

Brock will address the suffering of many veterans of war who still deal with the psychological and physical pain of their experiences in battle. She describes moral injury as “a complex wound of the soul,” resulting from empathy and self-reflection on values in the wake of morally ambiguous, extreme conditions. Brock uses the term “soul repair” as a way to describe the process of recovery from moral injury. She is the co-founder and director of the Soul Repair Center the Brite School.

The Rev. Dr. Rita Nakashima Brock

The Rev. Dr. Rita Nakashima Brock

“The Drury School of Religion is pleased to offer Drury and the Springfield area the opportunity to hear Dr. Nakashima Brock talk about her work with veterans seeking to recover from the trauma of war,” said Dr. Peter Browning, professor of religion and chaplain at Drury. “We hope this lecture will be beneficial not only to our own student veterans but to veterans and those who care about them throughout the Ozarks.”

Dr. Brock’s ministry to veterans fits well with Drury’s own commitment to military members and their families, which dates back to the days after World War II, when buses brought soldiers from Fort Leonard Wood to classes held on the Springfield campus. Today, one of Drury’s branch locations is at Fort Leonard Wood. For the past four years in a row, Victory Media has recognized Drury as a “Military Friendly School.”

Brock was a professor for 18 years before becoming director of a think tank for distinguished scholars at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. From 2001-2002, she was a fellow at the Harvard Divinity School Center for Values in Public Life.

Today, she is an internationally distinguished lecturer and award-winning author, with published works including: “Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire,” co-authored with Rebecca Parker, and “Soul Repair: Recovering from Moral Injury After War,” co-authored with Gabriella Lettini.

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Student veterans group challenges DU community to military fitness test

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., April 25, 2014 — The newly formed Drury chapter of Student Veterans of America (SVA) is holding its first fundraising event Saturday morning. SVA is challenging Drury students, faculty and staff to pass a military physical fitness test.

The event will be held at 9 a.m., Saturday, April 26, at Sunderland Field. The field is located just south of the Sunderland Residence Hall and is adjacent to Benton Avenue. Media are invited to cover the event. The challenge includes two minutes each of timed push-ups, sit-ups, and pull-ups or flexed-arm hang, plus a two-mile run.

Money from entry fees and donations will benefit the Home at Last program, which assists homeless veterans in Springfield. Home at Last is a new program funded by a Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Drury’s SVA chapter was founded earlier this academic year under the leadership of student veterans on campus. In September, Drury was named a Military Friendly School by Victory Media. The designation puts Drury in the top 20 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools in the country that are doing the most to embrace America’s military service members, veterans, and their spouses as students and ensure their success on campus. The Military Friendly designation is another example of Drury’s deep and continuing commitment to meeting the educational goals of military students.

For more information about the physical fitness challenge or SVA, contact SVA president-elect Katelyn Vernon, at (817) 694-4461 or kvernon@drury.edu.

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Drury ranks 3rd in the Midwest among Best Regional Colleges for Veterans

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Dec. 5, 2013 – Drury University is ranked 3rd among Best Regional Colleges for Veterans in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report. The rankings can be viewed at Best Colleges for Veterans.

U.S. News & World Report established the rankings to help veterans pursue a college education under the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Schools reported on their veteran benefits as part of the broader survey and data collection of undergraduate schools by U.S. News during spring 2013. In total, there are 234 ranked schools. Drury is the highest ranked university in Missouri.

“I wasn’t surprised to hear that Drury ranked high,” said Army Veteran and Drury student, Brent Wilkinson.  “I can’t give the staff at Drury enough kudos – the knowledge they have is incredible. Tammie (Drury advisor) has helped so many veterans come into the school and she made surethat everything I did was in line with the VA (Veteran’s Affairs).”

Earlier this year, Drury was ranked 8th among Midwest Regional Universities in the publication U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges 2014.

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Drury to commemorate Veteran’s Day Celebration

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Nov. 7, 2013 — On Monday, Nov. 11, Drury University will honor veterans with a celebration on campus at 11 a.m. at the Armed Forces Plaza outside of the O’Reilly Family Event Center.  This event is free and open to the public.

The celebration is organized by the newly founded student organization, Drury Student Veterans of America (SVA).  Dr. Peter Browning, Dr. David Manuel, TSgt Brad Ray, and OSI Randy Snodgrass will speak at the event.  The ceremony will also include a flag presentation by the Ozark High School junior ROTC, and music by both the Drury Chamber Choir and the 135th Army Band.

Dr. Allin Sorenson, director of the Drury Chamber Choir, has been involved with the celebrationalmost every year that it has been observed at the university.  Sorenson said, “It reminds people of the importance of the day and how we feel about America.  It’s usually a very moving event with several current military members and veterans present…It always makes me proud that, in some small way, we can honor who they are and what they stand for.”

Tammy Nilsen, co-advisor of the Drury SVA group, said, “It can be easy to forget that so many people have family or friends in the military, so this celebration is a great time to celebrate those who’ve fought or are still fighting for the freedoms we enjoy.”

For more information about this event, contact Tammy Nilsen at (417) 873-7215 or email tnilsen@drury.edu.

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