HIRAM: Starting next month, military veterans will have their own residence hall at private Hiram College in rural Portage County.
The new Freedom Center at Henry Hall will provide single, private quarters for veterans under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the college announced this week.
“Our goal is to provide the best environment for the successful transition from the military back into civilian life,” said Hiram DeJesus, president of Patriot Development LLC in Cleveland, which is handling the project for the college.
New Mexico State University debuted the first housing exclusively for veterans and their families in January. Ohio State followed suit this fall with 11 free-standing units to veterans.
Other colleges and universities have earmarked floors of residence halls or former fraternity buildings for veterans, who often are older and more seasoned than the typical 18- or 19-year-old student and might want to be near others with some of their same experiences.
At Hiram, the veterans-only accommodations will be in single-occupancy rooms that Patriot Development is converting from 44 double-occupancy rooms.
The company is remodeling the dorm now with new paint, furnishings, energy-efficient windows, carpeting and tile, DeJesus said.
Patriot is leasing the dorm, which was empty this fall, from the college for one year. The college may provide some property to the company so it can build townhomes for veterans, Hiram spokesman Tim Bryan said.
“We’ll see what the response is,” he said.
Currently, Hiram doesn’t have a large population of military veterans — just 10 students.
But DeJesus, the developer, believes that Henry Hall will prove attractive to veterans. The campus is quiet, away from hustle and bustle of city life, near parks and recreational activities, yet just 40 minutes from Cleveland and Akron, he said.
To spur enrollment, the first 20 veterans to sign on to the new housing program will receive free housing for the first two months of their time at Hiram.
The college and Patriot also will hold an information session at 7 p.m. Friday at Holiday Inn at Interstate 77 and Rockside Road in Independence.
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Carol Biliczky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-996-3729.