Feb. 17, 16 students from UW Tacoma and Tacoma Community College played almost two hours of dodgeball to support the 2018 Pacific Northwest Student Veterans Regional Conference. The conference will take place on the UWT campus April 19–21. The UWT Student Veteran Organization — the organization behind the fundraising effort — has raised $280 so far, but hopes to reach a goal closer to $800.
The Veteran Organization set out to bring people together in a way that was nothing too serious, according to president Chris Burd.
“It is the first chance for us to show what we can do as veteran community on our campus, try to affect some good and to help out our fellow vets across the region,” Burd said.
Eric Ballentine, director of community service for the Veteran Organization and veteran corps navigator for the Veteran and Military Resource center, thinks that an event like this is fitting for this group.
“As veterans, we like to take on new ways of doing things. There’s a few sports that we play in the military, dodgeball is one of them. It’s probably the safest sport that they’ll allow us to play on campus,” Ballentine said. “It is really about having fun, getting people to come out and interact with each other.”
UWT’s Veteran Organization is a chapter of the larger nonprofit Student Veterans of America. Within the Northwest — and the Puget Sound in particular — there is a large military population, so Student Veterans efforts have been focused on connecting campuses and student veteran associations together, according to Ballentine.
“We are really trying to bring our region together and to make a stronger push for better education, better benefits and better supportive services for veterans,” Ballentine said.
Thomas Di Giorgio, who serves as the current president of the Student Veterans of Tacoma Community College and plans to transfer to UWT next fall, agrees with Ballentine on the importance of organizations from different schools connecting.
“[Events hosted by student veteran organizations] shows schools the value in these effective programs and bridges connections,” said Di Giorgio.
He also expressed how grateful he is that organizations like Student Veterans of America exist because it allows veterans to be connected to one another as well as resources they need to succeed and the community at large.
Di Giorgio feels that working with a student veterans club has been an amazing experience, despite these clubs receiving little media coverage.
“We don’t do it for publicity, we do it for the community,” said Di Giorgio.
The dodgeball game is the first in a series of events that will help the Veteran Organization raise money. The next event will take place Feb. 27 at MOD Pizza in Lakewood, which will not only support the 2018 conference, but also help fund stoles for graduating veterans. Incoming monetary gifts to UWT’s Veteran Incubator Better Entrepreneurship Fund are also bringing the Veteran Organization closer to their goal of $800.
To donate to the UWT Veterans Incubator
Better Entrepreneurship Fund, go to