MVC Spotlight - Pam Luyk

MVC Spotlight: Pam Luyk – VSO – St. Joseph

 “I don’t do this for the pay,” said Pamela Luyk. “What we do here is phenomenal work and I am so proud to be part of this team!”

Pam is an Administrative Support Assistant supporting the Veterans Service Office in St. Joseph located in the Northwest Region.

October 1st marked a milestone for Pam as she has been gainfully employed for the Missouri Veterans Commission for 19 years!

Despite being a seasoned staff member for MVC, Pam admits she did not always have all the answers.

“I started out knowing nothing,” said Pam with a chuckle. “I studied at night just to learn how to help answer questions better from the Veterans.”

When she first started out, Pam says she was only part-time—but she had a full-time commitment to Veterans and the job.

Pam also proudly shares that she worked with other women at MVC to nurture women Veterans to be proud of their service over the years.

“I hope I have helped many women Veterans realize they are Veterans too and that they deserve the benefits they have earned with their service,” said Pam. “I can’t tell you how many times I have been talking to a male Veteran and started talking to their spouse. I then find out the spouse is a Veteran too and may qualify for benefits. Many women didn’t always see it like that years ago.”

Pam is not a Veteran herself, but she has a strong family tradition of military service. She has a brother who is a U.S. Marine and her son, Jacob Robbins, is a current member of the Army National Guard.

Pam is also a proud mother to two other boys, Andrew and Jarad Robbins, and grandmother to a three-year-old little ‘darling’ of a girl, named Angel. She is also a pet lover and has two cats and one dog in her home.

Her workplace story began when she moved from Michigan to St. Joseph, MO in 2000.

As Pam noted, she began with MVC part-time--but this transitioned into a full-time job in 2006.

In addition to working in the St. Joseph office, Pam has also worked in the Sedalia office for nearly six years before returning to St. Joseph. She said she has also helped out at other VSO locations over the years when called upon. Even though she has worked at other locations, Pam said she still feels most comfortable in the St. Joseph area.

“The people in the Northwest Region are like my family,” said Pam. “They have supported me so much over the years!”

Pam calls herself a ‘survivor’ has she endured a flood last year that claimed nearly all of her personal possessions—which included treasured family photographs. At that time, she was displaced from her home for over 10 months.

Always an optimistic person, Pam noted that “it could have been worse” and said she will forever be grateful for her co-workers who helped her in numerous ways during that difficult time.
Pam said what she likes best about her job with MVC is meeting people and helping them.

“I love to help Veterans and widows who are in need,” said Pam. “Sometimes they may come into the office grumpy. Nine times out of ten, I can put a smile on their faces just by talking to them. You have to be patient with people. I never regret coming to work every day!”

The Veterans Service Officer Program was created to help the Veterans of Missouri earn the benefits that they legally have earned. There are over 40 Missouri Veteran Service Officers located across that state. All VSO services are free to the public. For information on how to contact your nearest VSO, please see refer to the MVC website at https://mvc.dps.mo.gov/service/ or download the free MVC App for iPhones or Android devices.

The VSO Office at St. Joseph is currently open for business to assist Veterans. The office is located at: Missouri State Office Building, 525 Jules Street, Room 314, St. Joseph, MO 64501. You may contact Pam Luyk for an appointment by email at Pamela.Luyk@mvc.dps.mo.gov or call (816) 387-2841.


MVC Spotlight: Stacy Wilson – Fort Leonard Wood Cemetery

MVC Spotlight - Stacy Wilson

Stacy Wilson speaks with Daniel Carson at the Fort. Leonard Wood Cemetery.

“Every time I enter the grounds, I am taken aback in awe! You are surrounded by the fallen heroes here. The monuments. A feeling comes over you of reverence,” said Stacy Wilson.

Stacy is the Cemetery Director at the Fort Leonard Wood Cemetery. She has worked for the Missouri Veterans Commission for nearly 11 years. Stacy began her career at the Fort Leonard Wood Cemetery as a Cemetery Representative in 2009. She was there at the very beginning and recalls working from the St. Robert City Hall Building for a short time. Stacy became the Cemetery Director in 2019.

“Serving Veterans and their families with burial benefits during their time of need is a very rewarding experience,” said Stacy. “These benefits are a substantial savings to the family and many wouldn’t be able to afford traditional burials without them.   But these benefits aren’t free-every Veteran has earned them!”

Stacy says that working with individuals who have lost a loved one and are going through what can be one of the most difficult times in their lives can be challenging, but knowing that you are playing some small role in their final memories is a humbling experience.

Care for families is an essential part of the job at the Fort Leonard Wood Cemetery, according to Stacy.

“Every one of the team members here take great pride in what we do and consider it an honor and privilege to be involved in supporting this significant benefit,” said Stacy. “We sincerely care about every family that we serve.”

Missouri State Cemetery Program was created so that every Missouri Veteran will have reasonable access to a Veterans cemetery. There are five cemeteries are in operation at this time; Springfield, Higginsville, Bloomfield, Ft. Leonard Wood, and Jacksonville. There is no cost burial services for any Veteran. Spouses and children (who meet qualifications) are also eligible for burial services. Services include: military funeral honors; graveside or columbarium space; opening and closing of the gravesite or niche cover; provision of a grave liner; upright granite headstone or niche cover; and perpetual care.

The Fort Leonard Wood Cemetery is located at 25350 Highway H in Waynesville, Missouri. The phone number to reach this location is (573) 774-3496.

“Some people may think that we only provide a final resting place and conduct military funeral honors,” said Stacy. “While that is true, our services don’t end at the interment. We also serve the family members that are left behind. We develop relationships that continue past the service, and many become part of our cemetery family.”


MVC Spotlight - David Wells

MVC Spotlight: David Wells – VSO – Mt. Vernon

“My passion is helping people,” said David Wells.

David is a Veteran Service Officer who has an office at the Mt. Vernon Veterans Home. He has been part of the Missouri Veterans Commission team for over five years.

David is a Veteran of the U.S. Air Force. He served as an Airman for over 24 years of Active Duty service.

David fondly recalls that his military career started at Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1987. He started his service as a member of security forces at the air base in Hawaii. David’s service led him to many other locations which included: North Dakota, Colorado, South Dakota, and England.

His service with the Air Force included overseas deployments to Saudi Arabia in 1995 and Kyrgyzstan in 2005

“My deployment to Kyrgyzstan mostly involved training,” said David. “But I was also glad that we also helped to build houses for the local community and a playground (for children) in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.”

David’s military service helped him rise through the ranks and he earned the rank of Master Sergeant. His spirit of giving while in the service helped him earn the distinction of “First Sergeant of the Year” while he was serving at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota.

“While serving at Ellsworth, I helped manage a program called ‘Operation Warm Heart’ that helped Airmen in need,” said David. “I was also active in a clothing drive called Operation H.U.G.S.S in South Dakota that benefited the homeless American Veterans at the local mission. That always made me feel good!”

Today, David says he continues to express his dedication to service by helping Missouri’s Veterans in his role as a Veterans Service Officer.

“These are benefits they earn,” said David. “This is not a handout! These benefits are in place for the Veteran and their families. My job is very fulfilling for me and I change people’s lives and this is why I do what I do.”

David said after nearly a quarter-century of globe-trotting, he chose to settle down in Joplin because his devoted wife, Jamie. She asked him to come back home after his military career had concluded. He speaks of his wife fondly and he said she supported him both in the military as well as with his aspirations to earn several college degrees.

He is not only proud of his spouse, but David said he is proud and fortunate to have a wonderful family. His son, Bradley is also an Airman, and his daughter, Evalyn, works with the disabled.
In addition to his work with Veterans at MVC, David said he also enjoys staying involved with the local community as the Service Office of VFW Post # 5293 in Joplin. He proudly said that the post recently assisted a fellow Veteran get his water fixed who was without water for over two months as just one example of the post’s good work in the local community.

Finally, David also enjoys teaching adult Sunday school classes at his local church.

The Veterans Service Officer Program was created to help the Veterans of Missouri earn the benefits that they legally have earned. There are over 40 Missouri Veteran Service Officers located across that state. All VSO services are free to the public. For information on how to contact your nearest VSO, please see refer to the MVC website at https://mvc.dps.mo.gov/service/ or download the free MVC App for iPhones or Android devices.

Due to COVID -19 issues, the VSO Office at Mt. Vernon is temporarily closed. You may contact David Wells for an appointment by email at david.wells@mvc.dps.mo.gov or call (417) 466-7103x1105


MVC Spotlight

MVC Spotlight: Shannon Collier – Bloomfield Cemetery

“This is my family away from my family,” said Shannon Collier.

Shannon is the maintenance supervisor at the Bloomfield Cemetery. He has been part of the Missouri Veterans Commission team for over 17 years.

He exudes great pride when talking about the pristine grounds at the Bloomfield Cemetery as well as how fortunate he is to work with such tight-knit group of co-workers.

“I am really blessed to have such a great team here,” said Shannon.

When not in his administrative role, Shannon said he likes to pitch-in and work with his teammates. No day is the same at the Bloomfield Cemetery and his job duties vary from fabrication and maintenance in the shop to grounds keeping.

“My favorite times of the year here are in the spring and fall,” said Shannon. It is during those times when the cemetery undertakes the behind-the-scenes work with sod and earthwork.

You may think that cemeteries are not the ideal place to meet people. Shannon said that although people come there during a time of grieving that people also take pride in the service of their loved ones. He said he truly enjoys meeting family members and Veterans from all across the region who utilize the services of the Bloomfield Cemetery.

“We are very close to one another down here in southeast Missouri,” said Shannon. “We support a 17-county region—not to mention Veterans in Arkansas, Kentucky, and southern Illinois who are all nearby.”

He also notes the support that the Bloomfield Assistance League, American Legion Posts in Dexter and Sikeston, and other organizations help to make the Bloomfield Cemetery a very special place for Veterans and their loved ones. These organizations provide support for cemetery projects and special events such as the annual Veterans Fishing Days.

Missouri State Cemetery Program was created so that every Missouri Veteran will have reasonable access to a Veterans cemetery. There are five cemeteries are in operation at this time; Springfield, Higginsville, Bloomfield, Ft. Leonard Wood, and Jacksonville. There is no cost burial services for any Veteran. Spouses and children (who meet qualifications) are also eligible for burial services. Services include: military funeral honors; graveside or columbarium space; opening and closing of the gravesite or niche cover; provision of a grave liner; upright granite headstone or niche cover; and perpetual care.

The Bloomfield Cemetery is located at 17357 Stars & Stripes Way in Bloomfield, Missouri. Shannon encourages anyone to visit the cemetery.

“I love my job,” said Shannon with pride.