The University of Southern Mississippi was named to the Victory Media Inc., 2015 Military Friendly Schools list for the university’s support of active duty military, veterans and their families.
Maj. Gen. Jeff Hammond said this rating demonstrates Southern Miss’ work to go above and beyond for transitioning veterans, military service members and their families by providing them the tools they need for the best possible higher education experience.
“In this regard, military service members have made significant sacrifices to protect our freedom,” Hammond said. “As they return from service – or continue to serve – we believe it is our duty to provide the best in post-secondary education needs.”
According to its website, Victory Media is a veteran-owned business focused on connecting the military and civilian worlds. Non-financial military support on campus, academic credibility, percent of military students and veteran graduation rates are just a few of the factors considered for rating.
“This official designation publicly signals our openness and ability to work with men and women who have devoted their lives to protect and to serve, and I am excited that this recognition places us among select institutions who intentionally focus efforts on supporting this important group of students,” said University President Rodney Bennett in a Southern Miss press release.
A factor contributing to the military-friendly nature at USM is the opening of the Center for Military Veterans, Service Members and Families on the Hattiesburg campus. Hammond said the center will offer veterans and military students the opportunity to pursue an academic degree and career future.
The goal for the center is working toward awareness and support for military students on campus and creating a network of active and helpful faculty and staff. The center, equipped with a lounge, kitchen and laundry room, will offer a fully staffed VA Educational Benefits administration program and a computer study/work room.
“Considering the history of Southern Miss, being named to the Military Friendly Schools list is of extreme importance,” said Andrew Wiest, founding director of the Dale Center for the Study of War and Society. “It was a flood of World War II veterans going to school on the GI Bill that really helped to put Southern Miss on the map.”
Wiest said the goal of the Dale Center has always been to serve the veteran and military community given the rising number of veterans in the area and the proximity of Camp Shelby.
He believes being named to the Military Friendly Schools list will help the university achieve this goal.
Through Victory Media’s website GIJobs.com, veterans and military students are connected to more than 4,000 schools. Approximately 1,600 of those schools were recognized with a Military Friendly School rating.