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USM Veterans Center Hosts Unique Nutrition & Benefits Seminar

Wed, 04/17/2024 - 01:21pm | By: Van Arnold

Veterans Center

Photo by Kelly Dunn, USM Photo Services

In keeping with its mission to be an ultimate resource guide for veterans, the Center for Military Veterans, Service Members and Families at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) hosted a special “Nutrition & Benefits” Seminar on Tuesday, April 16.

The seminar was held at Quinlan-Hammond Hall, home of the University’s Veterans Center. Several state and local veterans organizations were represented during the event, which brought together a servant community committed to making a positive impacts on those facing food insecurity.

“The University of Southern Mississippi has always been known as a place where dreams come true because our staff, faculty, and friends believe foremost in serving others,” said Veterans Center Director Maj. Gen. Jeff Hammond (U.S. Army-ret.).

“This special opportunity to help South Mississippi veterans and their families, provided through the kindness of the Bob Woodruff Foundation, makes a difference for those who struggle with food insecurity issues.”

The seminar featured:

  • Presentations about nutrition and healthy eating
  • $250 grocery gift card giveaway
  • Nutritional cookbook giveaway
  • Information detailing resources for veterans
  • Information about veterans benefits

Photo by Kelly Dunn, USM Photo Services

David “Red” Rayborn, VA Certification Specialist with the USM Veterans Center, spearheaded the event with help from Lakinta Griffin, Workforce Case Manager at Oak Arbor, home to Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) in Hattiesburg and Marika Baliko, Interim Director, MS Balance of State Continuum of Care, who also serves as Deputy Director of Mississippi United to End Homelessness (MUTEH).

Rayborn stressed that the seminar provided an opportunity for the USM center to repay veterans for their incomparable sacrifices.

“Everything we can do for veterans will never be enough,” said Rayborn. “I personally feel veterans are way too taken for granted and way too underserved. I did not serve in the military, and it has been one of my largest regrets. I feel by heading up events like this, in a way, I am serving now. We can never do enough to thank our veterans. Without them, this country would be a very different place. We should all be thankful.”


Photo by Kelly Dunn, USM Photo Services

Baliko applauded the USM Veterans Center for hosting the event and noted that the MS Balance of State Continuum of Care’s commitment to ending veteran homelessness remains steadfast.

“We recognize the sacrifices made by veterans in service to our country, and we are dedicated to ensuring they have access to safe and stable housing,” said Baliko. “Through collaborative efforts with organizations like the Center for Military Veterans, Service Members and Families, we can make meaningful strides in improving the lives of those who have served. This event not only celebrates their service but also serves as a reminder of the importance of community support and camaraderie.”

To learn more about the Center for Military Veterans, Service Members and Families, call 601.266-8387.