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Ole Miss Veterans Services moves to George Street House

The Office of Veteran and Military Services and the Veterans Resource Center at Ole Miss will finally come together in a central location on campus this fall.

It’s something Andrew Newby, Deputy Director of Veteran and Military Services, said was a positive step in improving the lives of student veterans. The new VMS office and VRC location will be George Street House, formerly the home of the School of Applied Sciences. The VMS office is currently housed in the third floor of Martindale Hall, and the VRC is located in the basement of Yerby Hall.

The new location is one Newby described as “prime real estate,” saying he especially wanted to thank Dr. Brandi Hephner-Labanc and Leslie Banahan for their help in the process.

“It’s a central location on campus. It’s a sign of institutional commitment, which I’m really big about,” Newby said. “It was really championed by the leadership at the Student Affairs office.”

Moving to George Street House will solve one of the student veterans’ biggest problems: accessibility. Currently, the distance between the VMS office and the VRC is approximately 10 minutes for an able-bodied person, and much more for those with mobility issues. Another issue with the current VRC location, Newby said, was the lack of interior elevator access and bathrooms in the basement level of Yerby Hall.

Many student veterans – the majority of the 1,300-plus Ole Miss students receiving GI Bill benefits – were forced to choose between using the resources at the VRC and handling paperwork at the VMS office.

“I’ve said since the beginning that a one-stop location is the practice across the country, and that’s the model we should strive for,” Newby said. “With George Street House, there are no stairs walking in, with a bathroom on the first floor. My office is on the second floor, but there’s an elevator to get there. This is just a great step in the right direction for accessibility.”

Another benefit of George Street Hall is its proximity to academic buildings. In the near future, Newby said, the relocation will boost involvement in the student veteran organization on campus as well as allow them to bring in more resources for veterans in need. Ole Miss has already been recognized multiple times for being a top university for veterans, and the move to a central location will help cement that reputation, he said.

It will also serve as a launchpad for opportunity, for career growth and personal growth.

“Moving into this location is going to increase visibility. It’s going to make them feel like they matter, like they’re an important asset on campus,” Newby said. :Because they’re going to be coming in to a single location to get their benefits taken care of, there will obviously be more opportunities for student interaction.”

The move-out process is projected to begin in July, with a grand opening date set sometime in October.