The group Quilts of Valor honors veterans of all wars throughout the U.S. What began 17 years ago in the sewing room of a Delaware military mom has now touched veterans in every state.
Suzy Wing has been involved in Quilts of Valor since 2012.
Wing and about a dozen other quilters gather at the Montgomery VFW for what they call a “sew-in.” They are among 10,000 volunteers nationwide who devote their time to creating intricate and artistic comforters.
“It’s a sisterhood,” Wing said. “We enjoy the process of working together and over time it becomes a family.”
Each quilt is unique and takes weeks, even months to complete. They are a labors of love. What begins with tiny pieces of fabric transforms into a once in a lifetime gift of comfort and support.
Recently, at the VFW Hall in Niles, 16 Vietnam veterans gathered together for a Quilts of Valor ceremony. Bob Runtz among them.
Runtz was part of a group who called themselves the Dunkin Gang because they would meet every Tuesday at the donut shop in Niles.
That is, until the pandemic hit.
Four members caught the virus and within weeks, three of the veterans had died.
Runtz is the lone survivor. After five days in the hospital last March he was able to walk out.
“Why me and not somebody else,” he said.
Coming to terms with surviving COVID while his friends did not has brought back difficult memories.
“(It was the) same thing when I came back from Vietnam. Why me and why did I come back?” he said. “It’s a cycle that come back all over again.”
And helping to overcome the trauma is the goal of The Quilts of Valor Foundation.
“We came home without any recognition at all and it’s nice that somebody recognizes us now,” Vietnam veteran Russ Piattoni said.
To date, more than 255,000 veterans have been recognized with a Quilt of Valor. As was mentioned, you can’t buy these quilts. You must nominate a veteran or first responder on their website