News: Neillsville - Vets Presented with Quilts (Nov - 2015)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

Surnames: Berg, Demaree, Rodman, Stage

----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 11/25/2015

Quilts of Valor Presented to Veterans at The Highground (November - 2015)

Vietnam veteran Skip Sparks of Abbotsford (center) received his quilt of Valor at the presentation ceremony held Nov. 14 at The Highground. (Photo by Todd Schmidt/Clark County Press)

By Todd Schmidt

Six Wisconsin veterans received quilts during a heartfelt ceremony held Nov. 14 at The Highground.

Learning Center coordinator June Berg said the Quilts of Valor presentation was part of the God Bless America Tour that is raising funds for the Homeless Veterans program at the Chippewa Falls Veterans Center and the Learning Center at The Highground.

Quilts of Valor Wisconsin state coordinator Karen Demaree gave an inspired welcome to the veterans, families and The Highground staff.

“I am humbled to stand before you today,” Demaree said. “We are all eternally grateful for the service and sacrifice of our veterans.”

She said a woman whose eldest son had returned home from a deployment to Iraq started the Quilts of Valor organization in 2003.

“The young man woke up in the middle of the night with a feeling of utter despair,” Demaree said. “She wrapped him in a comforting quilt, and it completely changed his combat warrior demeanor.”

Demaree said many quilters, who she called “the lifeblood of our organization,” produce the healing and comforting quilts.

The Quilts of Valor organization seeks venues like The Highground Learning Center to get their quilts in plain sight. To date, 126,000 quilts have been given out to veterans in every state in the union plus Canada and the united Kingdom. Giving a special quilt in this manner is the civilian equivalent of giving a Purple Heart medal.

Demaree said each quilt produced comes from a Wisconsin quilter. The quilts are unique, from the first to the last stitch. The name of each recipient is inscribed on the back of each quilt. She described the meaning of each layer.

“The top layer represents colorful communities,” she said. “Each stitch is made with the love and gratitude of each maker.

“The batting in the center is place to provide warmth and comfort and to provide strength and healing.

“The backing offers the respect of families and communities. The story of each quilt becomes the story of each veteran. We are forever in your debt.”

The Highground volunteer general manager Kirk Rodman said the Quilts of Valor program continues the “ripple in the water effect” at The Highground, which has been in existence for 30 years.

He noted the expansion of the post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) program, with counselor Todd Stage of the Wausau Vet Center available for consultations every Thursday at The Highground.

Rodman said over 900 books on PTSD had been given out in the last two years. he said for every service member killed in action, 20 others return with physical and mental injuries.



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