University of Southern Mississippi opens new veterans center

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) — The University of Southern Mississippi is opening a new building with the aim of supporting military veterans.

The new facility is about supporting those who served the nation, said Jeff Hammond, the director of the university’s veterans program.

“It’s an amazing program and an amazing university, and when you mix all those three things together with a big heart that says, ‘Let’s help our veterans, their family members.’ You have a remarkable story,” Hammond said.

The new home of the Center for Military Veterans, Service Members and Families held its opening ceremony on Friday.

The new Quinlan-Hammond Hall of Honor will serve the more than 1,700 military students attending the university. It will be a 5,500-square-foot facility, and include a conference room, study space for small groups or individuals, and a library with an adjoining lounge and study, its website shows. It will also have other meeting areas and office spaces.

“We take our role as a military-friendly institution very seriously,” USM President Rodney Bennett said. “I could not be more proud that we are able to provide exceptional support and resources to our military students.”

Since it began around 10 years ago, the military program operated out of a small “little bit lackluster” office, said Joe Quinlan, one of the building’s namesakes.

“I was on campus about four years ago,” Quinlan told the Hattiesburg newspaper. “There were seven or eight people in uniform standing out there waiting to get inside because there wasn’t enough room. The rest of the campus doesn’t do this. They’ve got great buildings.”

The center’s staff provides guidance and support to military students as they move through the admission process, on to graduation and career placement.

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