|Veteran Ashleigh Powell (R) admires her quilt given by the Ladies of Valor of Wake Forest ( from Left) Marian Wyma, Donna Pernell, and Martha Killian, at the Durham VA Medical Center. The Herald-Sun | Bernard Thomas|
Jasper McNeill Jr. served in the Army during the Vietnam era, when he was tasked with bringing the bodies of friends back home.
It was a rough time, he says, that left him battling post-traumatic stress disorder well after leaving the military. He was homeless for more than two years in Durham, moving from shelter to shelter, until the Durham VA helped him find permanent housing.
Thursday afternoon, McNeill, 53, stood with a handmade quilt wrapped around his shoulders in the Durham VA Medical Center chapel. A group of volunteers, the Ladies of Valor of Wake Forest, created the blankets as part of the national Quilts of Valor Foundation, which recognizes veterans who have been touched by combat.
As the Ladies of Valor unfolded quilt after quilt and presented them to the small group of formerly homeless veterans in the pews, people gasped at their intricate piecing. There were pinwheel patterns, American flag fabrics and swirled stitches done by hand.
“This is just a great honor for me,” McNeill said, grasping his quilt after the ceremony. “It’s going right on my bed.”
Durham has become the pilot location for the Quilts of Valor expansion into serving formerly homeless veterans who’ve experienced war. The veterans are all part of HUD-VASH, the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing case management program, which helps veterans transition into permanent housing, find employment opportunities and get back on their feet.
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|Tiffany Bryant admires her quilt given by the Wake Forest Ladies of Valor at the Durham VA Medical Center.|