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PHOTOS: Quilts of Valor

This month, more than 30 of the valley’s former military members were saluted for their service during the Nye County Valor Quilters’ most recent Quilts of Valor Presentation Ceremony, with each receiving their very own, handmade and absolutely unique quilt as an offer of recognition and source of comfort and healing.

Taking place Saturday, Nov. 19, the Quilts of Valor Ceremony began with a welcome from current chapter leader Elba Rocha, who gave an overview of the nationwide nonprofit organization.

Started in 2003 by military mother Catherine Roberts, whose son was serving in Iraq at the time, the Quilts of Valor Foundation was literally inspired by a dream. Roberts said she had dreamt of a young veteran hunched up in despair, a scene which then shifted to one of the same man, only wrapped in a quilt and now with a sense of hope and well-being. That was when it hit her: quilts could equal healing.

Nearly 20 years later, the Quilts of Valor Foundation has exploded to include chapters all over the United States and collectively, more than 326,000 of these masterpieces have been awarded to American veterans. Nye County’s own chapter, founded in 2016 by Denise Kearl, has spent the last seven years volunteering its own efforts to the cause and following the Nov. 19 ceremony, its members have presented over 750 Quilts of Valor to area veterans of the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard.

Prior to the formal bestowing of the quilts, Rocha playfully scolded the recipients, telling them that their new quilts were not to be treated as untouchable works of art but rather, as useable blankets. She also warned them that they are so comfortable and warm the veterans should beware that others may attempt to steal them for themselves, which elicited a round of appreciative chuckles from the audience.

Slated to receive a Quilt of Valor for their service that morning were Army veterans Joseph Bryant, George Carey, Peter Christian, Michael Kuskie, Ralph Leslie, Kelli McHam, Sten Miles and Paul Phillips, as well as Navy veterans Raymond Elgin, James Fish, John Haulman, Marie Holcomb, Phillip Jackson, Robert Nilson, Joe Openshaw, Russel Osmon, Sylvester Riehm, Bud Sherwood and John Wehrly.

U.S. Marine veterans receiving a quilt included Joseph DeGuise, Graig Gustafson, Rick LeBlanc, Jim McCormick and Ralph Wade. U.S Air Force honorees were Robert Abbott, Michael Gray, Tesh Guerrero, Charles McCusker, Charles Thomas, Laura Tynan and Linda Voepel. Also honored for his service in both the Navy and Air Force was Robert Bartgis.

Many of the recipients offered words of thanks and gratitude for the incredibly generous gift of such beautiful quilts, all of which were made not just with thought and care but with plenty of love and admiration as well.

Sometimes taking up to 24 months to complete, all of the quilts awarded by the Nye County Valor Quilters are designed, pieced and quilted by a troop of volunteers who want nothing more than to give back to those who have sacrificed to keep America the land of the free and home of the brave. To do this, the nonprofit relies on profits from the sale of other fabric items offered at their ceremonies, such as bags, bowl holders and much more, along with donations from the local community.

Anyone wishing to contribute can mail a check to the Nye County Valor Quilters, P.O. Box 3632, Pahrump, Nevada, 89041 with checks made payable the Nye County Valor Quilters.

To nominate a veteran for a quilt or to learn more visit www.QOVF.org

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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