The Evergreen State College reaffirmed its commitment and welcomed new veteran student, staff and faculty at the Challenge Coin Ceremony held Wednesday December 12.
Veterans who attend or work at the college were presented with the challenge coin by Evergreen’s President George Bridges and Washington state’s Department of Veterans Affairs Director Lourdes E. “Alfie” Alvarado-Ramos.
“It’s a great honor to welcome incoming veterans, who are an essential part of our community,” said Bridges. “We are an institution which develops leaders for public service and the Evergreen Challenge Coin inspires our veterans to continue serving.”
Although the exact history of the military challenge coin is shrouded in mystery, it is awarded to honor, encourage and recognize those who do their best. The coin is meant to instill pride not only in service, but to underline Evergreen’s pledge to these student veterans.
“The state of Washington is one of the best, if not the best, at providing services to veterans. Evergreen has made a commitment to veterans and a place for them to call home,” said Alvarado-Ramos who was the keynote speaker and who is also a veteran.
Randy Kelley, a retired Navy officer, directs Evergreen’s Veterans Resource Center, a central hub for the college’s veterans and dependents, aiding them through the process of receiving their earned higher education benefits. Additionally, the Veterans Resource Center marshals resources in the community to assist veterans and dependents in housing, food and medical issues, according to Kelley.
“The challenge is to stick with it and complete college and to go back out into the community to serve again,” Kelley said. The college currently has 140 veterans using benefits and 83 veteran dependents.
Local members of the Ruby Street Quiltworks and the Quilts of Valor Foundation participated in the ceremony, draping two Evergreen veterans with quilts. The Quilts of Valor Foundation has draped quilts around more than 207,000 veterans worldwide.
“It’s nice to participate in Evergreen’s tradition of the coining ceremony,” said Jennifer Tiedeman ’19, who will graduate with a B.A. in psychology and anthropology. “I feel accomplished, now that I’m graduating. The coin symbolizes making it through school.”
Tiedeman was also draped with a quilt by the Ruby Street Quiltworks. “It is a gorgeous quilt and it’s really great to be a part of the thousands worldwide that have been draped,” she said.