Quilts of Valor ceremony recognizes military service by Secretary of State staff members

OLYMPIA — Secretary of State Steve Hobbs and 12 staff members of the Office of the Secretary of State were awarded Quilts of Valor at the state Capitol in Olympia Thursday for their military service.

Quilts of Valor volunteers award quilts to current and former members of the U.S. military to provide comfort and healing in recognition of their dedication and sacrifice. The organization has member groups nationwide.

Secretary Hobbs enlisted in the U.S. Army as a private in 1987 and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel with the Washington Army National Guard. He proudly served in Kosovo and Iraq, and was mobilized to command 750 service members during Washington’s COVID-19 response. Thursday’s other quilt recipients included servicemembers from the Army and Air Force dating back to 1982. Some were stationed overseas during the Cold War, Operation Enduring Freedom, the Global War on Terror, and the Implementation Force, which was part of NATO’s intervention in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Several, including Hobbs, are currently serving in the Army National Guard.

“The Quilts of Valor Foundation is dedicated to the well-being of those touched by war in any capacity, and I am grateful to their volunteers,” Secretary Hobbs said. “It is an honor to be awarded a healing quilt, which I and my family will cherish.”

Two former members of the military who work at the Office of the Secretary of State’s Washington State Archives office in Cheney will be awarded quilts separately.

Quilts of Valor’s Thurston County chapter was founded by Linda Schmitt in 2009. Current group leader Sherry Houser said the chapter has proudly awarded more than 1,500 quilts, both locally and overseas.

“I’m married to a veteran, my dad is a veteran, and I knew this was the right group for me,” Houser said. “We have 55 members, and all of us are touched by the military in some way.”

Washington’s Office of the Secretary of State oversees areas within state government including managing state elections, registering corporations and charities, and governing the use of the state flag and state seal. The office operates the State Archives and the State Library, documents extraordinary stories in Washington’s history through Legacy Washington, and administers the Combined Fund Drive for charitable giving by state employees and the Productivity Board state employee suggestion program. The Secretary of State also oversees the state’s Address Confidentiality Program to help protect survivors of crime.