A personal connection is what the Quilts of Valor Foundation is all about.
Joan Wobbleton’s husband, Jim, served in the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War. She remembers how service members were treated when they returned after their tours of duty during that war, and those memories led her and her husband to join Quilts of Valor in honoring the men and women who answered the call to serve.
“These guys who were over there came back at 19, 20, 21 years of age,” Wobbleton said. “They were spit on and rocks thrown at them.
“Fifty years later we are trying to make amends, to say ‘thank you’ for their service and to welcome them home,” she added.
On Monday Wobbleton and the Myrtle Beach Shore Birds, a group of quilters and their spouses who help create the quilts for servicemen, honored 18 Myrtle Beach police officers for their prior service in the U.S. military.
During the ceremony, each of the police officers stepped forward to be wrapped with the quilt that was made especially for them.
As she addressed the officers and their families and friends who were gathered, Wobbleton told the story of Catherine Roberts, the founder of Quilts of Valor. Roberts’ son was deployed to Iraq, Wobbleton said, and she had a dream.
In the dream, Roberts saw a young soldier sitting on his bed, despairing. Then, Wobbleton said, Roberts saw the young man with a quilt wrapped around him, comforting him.
That vision, Wobbleton said, is what led to Roberts’ vision – and one that Wobbleton and her friends help make real every day.
For Wobbleton, helping to bring comfort and honor to veterans through Quilts of Valor started in 2010 and since then the organization has awarded almost a thousand quilts.
And with many of those quilts comes a form of healing.
“We have found that for those returning with post-traumatic stress disorder, these quilts have been used as a comfort when they are struggling with that object in their head that comes out and makes them act differently,” Wobbleton said.
For some veterans, she added, the quilts create an opening for family members to talk about what the veteran went through.
“Many times we hear these comments like, ‘Well, he didn’t ever talk about it,’” Wobbleton said. “The quilt seems to be an opening so that a dad or grandpa or uncle can talk a little bit about what they did in the service, and it’s up to the people around them to ask questions – what did they do, how do they feel about it.”
Every time the Shore Birds present quilts to veterans is special, but Monday’s ceremony held another piece of significance.
“You really want to let the public know that the police officers were originally veterans, some of them,” Wobbleton said. “They protected their nation and now they are protecting their community – we need to respect them and appreciate what they do.”
No matter who receives the quilts, though, it is always about comfort, love and caring, Wobbleton said.
“We think it’s important to know that there are people out there who love them,” she said. “That’s why we do what we’re doing – I think they appreciate it, and we certainly love doing it.”