John Lind, 55, of Shelby Township, is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force. His Quilt of Valor was presented by Lois Jackman Oct. 30.

John Lind, 55, of Shelby Township, is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force. His Quilt of Valor was presented by Lois Jackman Oct. 30.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Quilt-making volunteers shroud vets in valor

By: Brian Louwers | C&G Newspapers | Published November 7, 2018

 Myra Coddens, of Grayslake, Illinois, a certified quilt shop relationship coordinator with the Quilts of Valor Foundation, said the “carpenter’s star” on the first quilt she made for a vet is a “striking yet simple” pattern.

Myra Coddens, of Grayslake, Illinois, a certified quilt shop relationship coordinator with the Quilts of Valor Foundation, said the “carpenter’s star” on the first quilt she made for a vet is a “striking yet simple” pattern.

Photo provided by Myra Coddens

METRO DETROIT — Quilts are made painstakingly, with love, for warmth and comfort. Quilts of Valor mean even more than that.

“The whole idea is that it’s for healing and comfort,” said Myra Coddens, of Grayslake, Illinois, who serves on the executive staff of the Quilts of Valor Foundation as a certified quilt shop relationship coordinator.

Coddens has made more than 30 quilts for the foundation since 2014. Each was later given to a veteran or service member touched by war.

She said she got involved with the group after learning that her friend’s husband, a Bronze Star recipient, had received one of the quilts.

Like each quilt, the award process is always different.

“Here’s what happens when you award somebody a quilt: a couple things. First of all, especially for the Vietnam vets, this is the first time that a lot of them have been acknowledged for their service,” Coddens said. “Because of the way they came home and the environment, they’ve never been thanked or acknowledged.”

Such was the case with a Vietnam vet in Minnesota, a man Coddens had known for years. She gave him a quilt with a fishing theme.

“When we awarded him his quilt, his thing was, ‘Nothing ever makes me cry, but Myra, you brought me to tears,’” Coddens said. “He whispered that in my ear. And the second thing he said was, ‘You’re the fourth person who has acknowledged my service.’ He worked over 20 years at the VA hospital up in St. Cloud. Yeah. Right. This is the kind of thing that you find.

“The other thing that you hear people say is, ‘I don’t deserve this. I came home.’ Isn’t that interesting? Amazing,” Coddens said.

And it’s not just men.

“I awarded one at a conference. She was one of the women during World War II who flew the target planes so that the men could practice shooting,” Coddens said. “What kind of a job is that?”

The work being done by Coddens and other volunteers inspired her sister, Lois Jackman, of Clinton Township, to piece together a quilt for her longtime friend John Lind, the director of the Detroit Arsenal of Democracy Museum and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, the Air Force and the Navy.

During his military career, Lind served abroad with the Marines during the invasion of Grenada in 1983, took part in drug interdiction operations in South America and was stationed on the edge of the demilitarized zone in Korea.

“He’s been a longtime supporter of veterans in the community and he’s got the museum, and he’s a friend of mine,” Jackman said.

Jackman sent the unstitched quilt to her sister, who assembled it. The quilt bears a label with Lind’s name, a record of who made it, and where it was stitched and placed.

It was presented to Lind at the Clinton-Macomb Public Library, on Romeo Plank Road, Oct. 30.

“This is actually beautiful,” Lind said. “This is really nice. I’ve never had a gift like this.”

Jackman said the quilt was presented as a surprise because she thought Lind might think there was someone else more deserving. She was right.

“Isn’t there somebody else who could use this? Thank you for thinking of me,” Lind said.

Jackman later registered the quilt online with the Quilts of Valor Foundation. It officially became No. 200,107 for the group, based in Winterset, Iowa.

The nonprofit awarded its first quilt at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in November 2003 to a young soldier from Minnesota who lost his leg in Iraq. The group’s first name was Quilts for Soldiers, and its original mission was to honor service members wounded in conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The criteria was later widened to include any veteran or service member touched by war.

The group’s annual conference will be held Aug. 19-20, 2019, in Grand Rapids.

To learn more about the Quilts of Valor Foundation, including how to become involved in the process, how to request a quilt or how to support the group, visit www.qovf.org or find the group on Facebook at www.facebook.com/quilts ofvalorfoundation.