Operation Recognition

The Missouri legislature created Operation Recognition in September 2001 to provide honorary high school diplomas for veterans and civilian prisoners of war (POWs) who left high school before graduation to serve in the military.  To date, over 1,600 honorary high school diplomas have been awarded to Missouri veterans. 

Who is eligible for an honorary diploma?

All civilian POWs who are residents or former residents of the state of Missouri and all honorably discharged veterans who are residents or former residents of the state of Missouri who served in the United States military and who did not return to school and complete their education after their term of service shall be eligible to receive an honorary diploma.  Family members may apply for the honorary diploma on behalf of a deceased veteran.

How do I apply for the honorary diploma?

Candidates must submit an application to the Missouri Veterans Commission.  Application forms are available from the commission, veterans' organizations and local school officials.  The Missouri Veterans Commission can be contacted by phone at 573-751-3779.  Applicants must submit a copy of their military discharge papers or DD-214 along with the application.

After the Missouri Veterans Commission verifies that an applicant is eligible, the application is sent to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The Department of Education prepares the diploma for the Governor's signature, then makes arrangements to mail the diploma to the recipient or designated party.

How and when is the honorary diploma awarded?

This is up to the individual recipient.  Some school districts, schools, communities, and veteran's organizations may choose to host a diploma ceremony on or around Veterans Day.  This is a way school districts and the community may express thanks and admiration to those brave veterans who so selflessly sacrificed their high school education to serve our country.   Such presentations can be made at any time or location that is most convenient.  If a veteran does not want a public ceremony, the diploma will be sent to him or her by mail.

Does it matter what school I attended?

No. Veterans and civilian POWs can qualify for the honorary high school diploma regardless of whether they attended public or private schools, and regardless of whether the school still exists or not.