2014 News Releases

Developmental Disabilities Division Director Retires

Simons’ leadership and experience will be missed in Missouri

JEFFERSON CITY, MO – Bernard Simons, Director of the Division of Developmental Disabilities (DD), within the Missouri Department of Mental Health (DMH), is retiring as of March 15, 2014 after more than seven years of service in the position.

Keith Schafer, Director of DMH, expressed tremendous gratitude for Simons’ service. “Bernie Simons is an experienced, dedicated and compassionate leader in the developmental disability field, and one of the longest tenured directors in the history of DMH’s Division of DD. His vision and commitment to people with developmental disabilities has been unmatched. He implemented the Partnership for Hope program, a national early intervention model that created a basic ‘sea change’ in the developmental disabilities field, allowing the quicker enrollment of over 2,700 individuals to enter DD services much earlier to maintain and strengthen their functional abilities to live in their home communities. Not only does that allow them a better quality of life, but I also believe that it will avoid the need for more costly residential services in the future.”

Schafer also said that Simons’ leadership had resulted in dramatic reductions in the number of individuals on the state’s waiting lists for DD services that had existed for many years. “Bernie set the stage for Governor Nixon’s dramatic announcement in his January 2014 State-of-the-State message to the Missouri Legislature that his Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 budget recommendations would allow every eligible individual with DD in-home services needs to be enrolled in those services during FY 2015.”

While Simons is retiring from his work in Missouri, he is not leaving the field of Developmental Disabilities. He and his wife are moving to Baltimore, Maryland where he will become the director of developmental disability services for that state in April, 2014.

Schafer indicated that Jeff Grosvenor, currently the Director of Administrative Services for the Division of Developmental Disabilities, will serve as Interim Director of the DD Division until Mr. Simons’ successor is chosen.

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New Efforts to Help Veterans Transition to College Life

The Student Veterans Center Project

[Jefferson City, MO] Missouri’s colleges and universities are seeing a rising number of students who are military veterans. Often the transition from the military to the classroom can be a challenge, especially for those who have been deployed or are first time college students. To address these issues a group of representatives from select state agencies, higher education institutions and service veteran organizations are beginning work on The Student Veterans Center Project.

The goal of the group is to create a guide that will assist Missouri’s colleges and universities to become more “military friendly”. The guide will recommend programs and policies to help meet the unique needs of the student veterans including: behavioral health, educational assistance, developing job placements skills and social support. Ultimately it would like to see campuses provide a place where student veterans can connect, a Student Veterans Center.

The Student Veterans Center Project is a joint effort led by the Missouri Department of Mental Health-Behavioral Health Division, Missouri Department of Higher Education and the Missouri Behavioral Health Alliance. Additional resources were provided by project partners who include the Missouri Veterans Commission, Missouri National Guard, Missouri Department of Economic Development-Division of Workforce Development, Veterans of Foreign Wars-Missouri, American Legion-Missouri, and the Missouri Chamber of Commerce.

The workgroup members are:

Keith Glindemann (Assistant Director of Veteran Services, Columbia College)

Mike Bamber (Program Director-Military Enrollment Outreach & Territory Development, Saint Louis University)

Jeremy McBroom (Director, Office of Military and Veteran Services, Southeast Missouri State University)

Amanda Woods (Military and Veterans Outreach Coordinator, Office of Military and Veteran Services,

Southeast Missouri State University)

John Matthews (Director, Financial Aid and Veteran Services, State Fair Community College)

Jeffrey Huffman (Director, Military & Veteran Services, University of Central Missouri)

Carol Fleisher (Director, Veterans Center, University of Missouri-Columbia)

Kevin Pelzel (ADA Coordinator/Assistant Director, Academic Resource Center, Webster University)

The group’s next steps are to finalize the guide on how to be “military friendly” and schedule a statewide conference to share the information with representatives from all of Missouri’s higher education institutions. For more information contact Jon Sabala, Dept. of Mental Health, Veterans Services Director at 573-751-2368 or jon.sabala@dmh.mo.gov.

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Veterans Student Center Project Workgroup Photo

Student Veterans Center Project Workgroup