Veteran of the Year 2022-2023
1SG (Ret.) Alvin King
Retired Army First Sergeant, Alvin King has been selected as the inaugural South Carolina Veteran of the Year for the 2022-2023 nomination cycle. King, a 20-year Veteran of the United States Army, has been selected by an Internal Selection Committee among a total of four candidates that were honored as Veteran of the Quarter. King is the founder of the nonprofit Range Fore Hope Foundation, which focuses on facilitating outdoor activities as a positive outlet for active-duty service members, combat and disabled Veterans, and their dependents. The foundation’s goal is to assist with overcoming the challenges associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other difficulties faced by Veterans and their families.
The selection of Veteran of the Year was first made known to King on Wednesday, November 8th in a surprise announcement at Cobblestone Golf Course in Blythewood, where King was greeted by SCDVA and Range Fore Hope Foundation staff to deliver the news of the honor. "I feel humbled. This is an honor to be selected. Over the course of a year there have been many great Veterans serving their community and I was one of them, said King. "To be the first inaugural Veteran of the Year is kind of a big deal, not necessarily for myself individually, but for the Foundation. This is bigger than me, we serve together. As an Army guy I always have an acronym, T.E.A.M: 'It Takes Everyone to Achieve a Mission'."
Denise Powell, an event coordinator for Range Fore Hope Foundation, has worked with Alvin for less than a year. During her time volunteering with Range Fore Hope, she has found that experiencing Alvin's leadership and his willingness to serve the Veteran community to be an awarding aspect of her job.
"First and foremost, Alvin is very service oriented and has a personality that embraces others into the organization. Alvin is a giver. He gives of his time, his service, and his knowledge," said Powell. "It has been extremely fulfilling to see his passion and his love for Veterans and also family members of Veterans."
1SG King's dedication and commitment to Veterans, active duty military, and their families encourages his team to invoke change in their communities and take pride in the impact they have made on Veterans.
"I'm very proud. There could be no one more deserving than him to win this award," said Range Fore Hope Head Instructor Rebekah Gawinsk. "I don't think any of us, knew the impact that we would have giving back to our community, to our military, and their families. It's very humbling and rewarding to see that impact and Alvin has been at the forefront of that."
Following the surprise announcement, King was later recognized during halftime alongside other Veterans, including a Vietnam War Veteran and a 101-year-old World War II Veteran, at the annual University of South Carolina Athletics football 'Salute to Troops' game against Vanderbilt University on Veterans Day. Throughout the game, several military-connected families and Veterans were honored and recognized as a part of the university's tribute to those who have served. The last leg of 1SG King's series of honors culminated into a formal ceremony at the South Carolina State House on November 14th with Governor Henry McMaster and SCDVA Secretary Todd B. McCaffrey.
"South Carolina is home to remarkable citizens from all walks of life. We are especially blessed to have Veterans like Alvin King commit themselves to assisting others and thereby raise the quality of life for all through his efforts, said SCDVA Secretary Todd B. McCaffrey.
During the ceremony Governor Henry McMaster stated how important Veterans were to our country and to the State of South Carolina, touting their value to society.
"If we did not have Veterans that means we wouldn't have anybody in uniform. So we do honor our Veterans and we appreciate them very much," said Governor McMaster. "Men and women come out of the battle of service they are loaded with skills. Their talent has been discovered and built upon. They offer great stability to our society."
1SG King was joined by his family, who expressed their joy in him being selected as the inaugural South Carolina Veteran of the Year, noting that his attitude towards service was key to him making history and being selected for this honor. His family also mentioned that his work with Range Fore Hope has inspired them to increase their own efforts in giving back to the community.
"As a family we are very proud of everything that Alvin's done with his foundation and with his service to his country. This honor his very deserving for him," said 1SG King's sister-in-law Eva Knight. "He's always been one to go above and beyond what he needs to do for his fellow soldier and his family."
"I'm very proud of all the work that he's done in the community. He is the type of person who will give you anything and everything that he can without thinking twice," said Alvin's wife Dina King. "He has inspired me to be more involved in the community to the point that I am looking towards organizations where I can volunteer to help with military spouses and family members."