‘Upgrade Your Tailgate’ to Support Veterans

UM Veteran and Military Services selling military-themed license plates

The UM Student Veterans Association is providing a chance for Mississippians to show their support for veterans attending Ole Miss by purchasing a car tag that features an American flag-themed Ole Miss logo. The specialty tags will be printed and distributed once at least 300 pre-sales are made. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi‘s Office of Veteran and Military Services wants to let Mississippians spruce up their car tags in 2019, while also raising money to help military veteran students at Ole Miss.

“Upgrade your tailgate” is the rallying cry for a push to get Mississippi license plates produced featuring an Ole Miss logo with an American flag color scheme. Production can’t begin, however, without the commitment of supporters of the university and its military veteran students.

“I came up with the idea to develop a license plate as a way to provide the community with a tangible way to demonstrate their love of Ole Miss and their support for veterans in the community,” said Andrew Newby, assistant director of veteran and military services.

The Mississippi Legislature last April approved the design of a specialty license plate featuring the traditional Ole Miss logo with a red, white and blue color scheme – the same logo the football team features on its helmets for the annual military appreciation game. The tag also has the words “Welcome Home” across the bottom, in honor of the Ole Miss campaign to support student veterans of the same name.

Before the tags can be produced, Newby must collect 300 pre-sale commitments and send that money to the Department of Revenue.

“I really like the design,” said Winston Taylor, Student Veterans Association treasurer. “The flag-colored Ole Miss logo is popular. Many of my friends actually bought the stickers of the same logo.”

Newby thinks the new license plate will be a product many Mississippians will want on their vehicles, but the cause that will receive the money is the real selling point.

“By working to create new revenue streams that can directly benefit the student veterans, these tags will help connect our mission to create concrete funding sources,” Newby said. “There is a direct benefit for purchasing a ‘Welcome Home’ license plate, because people have the ability to show their love for Ole Miss while also making an immediate, positive impact in the lives of real veterans in our community.”

Plates are $51 and can be purchased online; supporters also can fill out an online form and mail the application and check to Ole Miss Student Veterans Association, 3rd Floor, Suite R, Martindale Student Services Center, P.O. Box 1848, University, MS 38677-1848. Or, supporters can visit the office of Veteran and Military Services to fill out an application in person and deliver cash or check.

Once 300 pre-sales are accounted for, Newby will send a check for the full amount to the Department of Revenue and the tags will be printed. The DOR will send the finished plates to the respective car tag offices and those who purchased can swap out their current tag for the “Welcome Home” tag. The owner’s registration transfers to the new plate, and they are able to renew when registration is due.

Th eOffice of Veteran and Military Services will eventually receive $37 for every plate sold that will be transferred to the university’s Welcome Home Campaign. Once there, it will be used at the discretion of Veteran and Military Services to support military veteran students at Ole Miss.

“The Welcome Home campaign was created in an effort to bring in resources that directly contribute to the well-being of student veterans at Ole Miss,” Newby said. “This campaign works to provide meaningful support and resources for student veterans in the form of scholarships, grants and resources for the Veterans Resource Center.”

Newby already has pinpointed some areas in which the money will help students.

“There are significant needs that we intend to address with how the Veterans Resource Center is cared for, and the money we raise will go toward computers, printing services, textbooks, testing materials and other amenities our students need,” he said.

Taylor said he hopes the fundraiser will continue the upward momentum the SVA has created with facilities and services on campus.

“We have only recently acquired the Veteran’s Resource Center here on campus,” he said. “This is a massive improvement from before, where everything was managed out of a small office in Martindale. Simple things like printing and Scantrons, along with more in-depth benefits such as career assistance are all things that veterans need and utilize.

“The VRC is a space where these things can be facilitated, but there is still much room for improvement.”

As of the end of March, the office had hit 20 percent of its goal of 300 commitments. With help from the Ole Miss community, Newby hopes to have the required 300 commitments by summer.

“Everyone is encouraged to participate with our campaign,” he said.

The Rebels baseball team is showing its support with the “step up to the plate” campaign to help raise awareness of the project.

For more information about purchasing a “Welcome Home” license plate, email sva.olemiss@gmail.com.