Amanda Woods, Military and Veterans Services officer and Veterans Administration certifying official with Southeast Missouri State University’s Office of Military and Veterans Services (OMVS), was recently awarded the prestigious Employer Support for Guard and Reserve (ESGR) Patriot Award.
The ESGR Patriot Award honors individuals for their support of service members and his or her family. The Patriot Award reflects the efforts of individuals to support citizen warriors through a wide-range of measures including flexible schedules, time off prior to and after deployment, caring for families, and granting leaves of absence if needed.
Woods was nominated by Southeast senior and Missouri Army National Guardsman Michelle Lang.
“I was truly surprised to receive this award,” Woods said. “Knowing that I’ve positively impacted people’s lives and helped them achieve their goals is really what matters to me, but I’m truly honored to have been nominated at all and humbled to have been awarded such an accolade.”
Lang, a native of the Philippines, is a sergeant in the Missouri Army National Guard, where she has served for four years. She is pursuing her Bachelor of Science in biology, pre-physician assistant option, at Southeast, and is a student employee in Southeast’s OMVS.
“I decided to nominate her because she deserves it more than anyone I know. I don’t think I only speak for myself when I say she is the best boss I’ve ever worked with,” Lang said. “She’s made the military office a safe haven and a great resource for all military members. She is the face of the Office of Military and Veterans Services.”
Lang said she nominated Woods for her compassion for and consideration of those she serves.
“If a National Guard member is abruptly activated or sent orders to serve, not only does she drop what she’s doing and make sure the paperwork is squared away with the University, but she also reaches out to the soldier to make sure they have everything they need as well,” Lang said.
Lang and Woods work to support veterans and military-affiliated students navigate University and external processes, provide referrals for healthcare and employment, offer tutorial resources and assist with military to school transitions, Woods said
“We provide a network of support for all of our military-affiliated student population so that they can be successful in their personal and academic endeavors,” she said. “Really, whatever our population needs, I’m going to try to get that for them.”
Woods, whose family and husband have a history of military service and who is a 2007 Southeast graduate, said she is passionate and dedicated to supporting Southeast and local community service members and veterans, and she is proud of the work the OMVS accomplishes.
“My favorite part of working in the OMVS, aside from seeing people excel and achieve their goals, is seeing people from different walks of life foster relationships from simply frequenting the center. Veterans are doing what they did in service – supporting one another,” she said. “If the office wasn’t here, I doubt the relationships and networks of support would thrive. That’s why it’s so important to have this center here at Southeast, and that’s why I work so hard to make sure our population has what it needs to succeed.”
Lang is proud to have had the opportunity to present her mentor with the Patriot Award.
“She is my supervisor, my role model, my greatest influence and my friend,” Lang said. “She has made a huge impact on my life, and she doesn’t even know it! Without her, I don’t think I would be able to say I’m in my last semester of college.”