Helping Student Veterans

Maghan Alberts eases transition to college as veterans services coordinator

It can be a confusing process, making a transition from boots to books.

“Some of the veterans coming to school at Missouri Southern have started the benefits process through the Veterans Administration,” says Maghan Alberts, the university’s veterans services coordinator and advisor of the Student Veterans Association. “There’s a lot of information, and it can be a little overwhelming.”

Alberts’ mission is to make that transition as smooth as possible.

“I’m the primary point of contact for them,” she says. “I explain what VA education benefits are available to them, and direct and guide them through the process of applying for the benefits.

About 5 percent of Southern’s current students are veterans, she says. That includes those attending under the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill, Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment Services and the Missouri Returning Heroes’ Education Act – the latter of which is for those who enlisted in the state of Missouri, served in armed combat and then returned to the state.

“We also offer college credit for military training experience, in-state tuition for all military service members and veterans, and priority registration,” says Alberts. “Some of our veterans, I’ve never actually met … they’re on active duty while using their benefits. They’re complete distance learners.”

The assistance provided to veterans is one of the reasons Missouri Southern has consistently been recognized as a military friendly institution.

Dave Irvine, who is studying computer forensics and criminal justice administration, came to Missouri Southern following a long career in the U.S. Air Force.

“I worked avionics on F-16s and was stationed all over … Georgia, Idaho, New Mexico, Europe, Kuwait and Iraq,” he says. “My whole experience in coming to Missouri Southern has been positive. The benefits are awesome, and if you have a problem you can always go to Maghan.”

For Alberts, her role at MSSU is a personal one.

“My husband and I met while we were in the Navy in San Diego,” she says. “We both served for four years of active duty and then came to Missouri Southern. I graduated in 2000 with a bachelor’s in criminal justice and an associate’s in law enforcement.

“I’ve been a strong believer in education for a long time. We have some guys coming home after a rough experience, and anything I can do to help that transition go easier and make them feel comfortable, I feel that’s important.”