With veterans of four wars looking on, President Brooks Keel and Georgia Southern University staff christened Wednesday a new center dedicated to serving the men and women who have pledged to protect their country.
The college hosted a formal opening ceremony for its new Military Resource Center in the Nessmith-Lane Conference Center, within the halls of its Performing Arts building.
The new center, also located in the Performing Arts building, is Georgia Southern’s latest effort to support its large contingent of military students and families by providing them a place for communion and counsel.
“This is something we are incredibly proud of for a number of reasons,” said Keel, who spoke before active and former military members, as well as school personnel Wednesday. “The purpose of this center is several-fold. It provides a central point where individuals who are active duty and veterans of armed forces, along with their families, can come and get the type of support they need. Whether it is to help enroll in class, transition from duty, or finish their education.”
“It is also an opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to all the men and women in the armed forces for what they do for us everyday,” he said.
The Center itself fills two rooms; it is outfitted with sofas and chairs, features a pair of televisions, and is home to a computer lab.
Walls are decorated with Army, Navy and various other military memorabilia, as well as glass exhibits honoring former soldiers.
Other amenities, like video games, a microwave and refrigerator also fill the space.
Down the hall, maybe the most valuable resource is found: a military outreach coordinator tasked with assisting service members by offering communication and guidance.
The coordinator is on staff to assist students with coordinating academic advisement, counseling, disability accommodation and pursuing the G.I. Bill’s financial aid for education.
“What this (Military Resource Center) does, is provide a center where soldiers and their families can assemble, study, meet and relax,” said Dr. Ted Moore, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs — Moore himself served in the United States Army; receiving a Purple Heart while serving as an infantryman in Vietnam. “This is a part of very broad effort to make Georgia Southern more accommodating and welcoming to the military population.”
According to Moore, the number of men and women at Georgia Southern with ties to military service — active and former soldiers, along with their spouses — is approximately 600.
All will have access to the university’s newest resource.
“I think the Military Resource Center will help soldiers wanting to further their education here a Georgia Southern,” said Thomas Hulme, a fourth-year student, member of the Georgia Southern ROTC and National Guardsman. “It provides a good outlet for them to go and get the information they need regarding being a student here.”
“I think the Center will be able to help me and other students out in any way possible,” he said. Various departments chipped in to make the center a reality, said Moore; including the university’s College of Information Technology, which provided the electronics, and its Department of Housing, that donated furniture.
Darryl Canfield, a retired marine and Georgia Southern Department of Housing employee, spoke at the commencement ceremony.
“What a plus this is for our university and region,” he said. “I’m proud to be a Marine Vietnam veteran and am honored to be an employee here at Georgia Southern. Georgia Southern, thank you for your commitment to our military and its veterans.”
Jeff Harrison can be reached at (912) 489-9454.