Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Private support is vital to continuing the Veterans Clinic mission of helping veterans

“Thank you for your service.”

A phrase used across America to veterans and current members of the military to express gratitude for the sacrifice made for our country. Jane and Roger Harris decided they wanted to do more. And do more they did. This spring, the Harrises gave $500,000 to the MU Veterans Clinic with the confidence that their generosity would directly benefit veterans.

a photo of roger and jane harris sitting on a boat

Jane and Roger Harris donated $500,000 to the MU Veterans Clinic to support an additional full-time staff attorney.

“We hear [‘Thank you for our service’] too much, including from me!” Jane Harris said. “It made me feel good that we’re [doing] more than lip service and have contributed more than just words. It’s like ‘thoughts and prayers,’ which gets thrown around a lot. Sometimes you just gotta put your money where your mouth is.”

The Harris’s money has already been put to excellent use. With their gift, the Veterans Clinic has been able to hire an additional staff attorney to oversee students and serve many more veteran clients.

The new attorney is a familiar face to the Clinic. Carter Templeton is a Mizzou Law alumnus and former student in the Veterans Clinic. After working for two years within the Clinic as a student, Carter graduated and took a position on the East Coast with a law firm focusing on veterans law. For Carter, the mission of helping veterans is personal.

“Many of my family members served in the military, including both of my grandfathers who served in the Battle of the Bulge,” Templeton said. “It’s because of their stories that I initially gained an interest in serving those who have served. It’s extraordinarily rewarding for me to be able to meet with veterans and their families and help them navigate a complicated VA system to help secure for them the benefits they deserve. I’m grateful for those who help make positions like mine and others at the Clinic a possibility so we can assist as many veterans as possible.”

For the Harrises, their motivation for helping veterans is similarly aligned.

“We were extremely touched by this program and feel that our contribution is very impactful,” Jane Harris said. “We generally give to grass roots-type not-for-profits and stay away from organizations that are top heavy. The Veterans Clinic really spoke to us and ticked all the right boxes!”

Private support, such as the generosity of the Harrises, is vital for the Clinic to grow its ability to help more veterans and their families receive the benefits they have rightfully earned. Currently, private gifts of all sizes fund 50% of the Clinic budget.

a photo of carter templeton

Carter Templeton, ’22, has been hired to fill the new Veterans Clinic staff attorney position created by the Harris’s gift.

“We truly cannot carry out our goals without private funding,” said Angela Drake, Clinic founder and retiring director. “Corporations, law firms, generous alumni, and even gifts from our dedicated staff all work together to keep our lights on and our clients served.”

Currently, the Clinic consists of a director, three attorneys and four support staff to train dozens of students a year and serve a list of hundreds of clients. And the list of prospective clients keeps growing.

“The need among veterans and their families for our services continues to skyrocket,” Drake said. “With our current resources, it is impossible to come close to meeting that demand. We are very thankful for the financial support from the State of Missouri and from generous friends like Roger and Jane Harris. We are ever mindful of our stewardship obligations, as we help our nation’s veterans on behalf of a grateful nation. Our robust advocacy would simply not be possible without State funding and individual donations which, when combined, cover our operating budget.”

More than 325 people support the Veterans Clinic on a regular basis, with monthly donations ranging from as little as $20 to enough money to support full-time attorneys, associated staff and much-needed office renovations. Many grateful clients also donate to the clinic, despite the fact that the legal services provided are free to clients.

From $5 to $500,000, support of any amount does and will go far in furthering the Clinic’s mission. To support the Veterans Clinic, visit: https://veteransclinic.missouri.edu/donate or call (573) 882-7630.