Using her talents as a quilter, Judy Hasheider is doing her part to honor veterans of the Sauk Prairie area.
The Sauk City resident has been making quilts for local veterans through the Quilts of Valor program, a nonprofit organization that aims to cover all physically or psychologically wounded service members with a freedom quilt as a way to honor them for their sacrifices.
The concept started with a Delaware woman in 2003, but has since become a national and even international concept.
“She had a dream one night that actually caused her to start doing this,” Hasheider said. “Since she started it 14 years ago more than 170,000 quilts have been given out to servicemen and even civilians touched by war.
Hasheider said there is no formal qualification process to receive a quilt, and veterans or their families can request a quilt online. Locally, Hasheider gets names of veterans with the help of the VFW in Prairie du Sac.
“I know some of the members. Some served with my husband in Vietnam and others with my dad in World War II,” Hasheider said. “I got involved with Quilts of Valor because I felt a personal connection, so I personally chose to give one.”
Although the program started with soldiers coming home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it has expanded to include anyone touched by the effects of war, said Bart Mauch, VFW Post 7694 adjutant.
“Veterans from earlier wars still have wounds and stress,” Mauch said. “So why not include them? Now veterans don’t have to prove they have post-traumatic stress disorder just to get a quilt.”
Getting a quilt can take some time and depends on the availability of quilters.
“It’s totally volunteer,” Hasheider said. “No one gets paid. So when a veteran receives a quilt, it comes straight from the quilter.”
Hasheider said she has received donations from time to time and it usually comes from a veteran. “But in no way does it cover the cost of their quilt,” Hasheider said. “It gets paid forward so someone else can receive a quilt.”
Mauch said a lot of work is put into each quilt, which usually is made from at least $200 worth of material.
“I got mine last year,” said VFW Post 7694 Commander Tom Schuster. “It’s quite a ceremony to watch. They talk about how the quilts of valor got started, what they do; the vet gets up, often they are with their family, and she (Hasheider) reads about the quilt and what it symbolizes and then the quilt is wrapped around the veteran as way of consoling them. It’s quite touching.”
Hasheider said in addition to the quilt, the ceremony serves as a way to recongize veterans.
“It’s definitely a feel-good project, especially now with the Vietnam vets who were never really recognized,” Hasheider said.
Six local veterans received a quilt of valor during the presentation Nov. 3.
“As a surprise two brothers received quilts – Maurice and Richard Nolven,” Hasheider said.
Hasheider also made a quilt for her uncle. It was Hasheider’s uncle’s first cousin – James Cramer – for whom VFW Post 7694 is partially named.
“It was named after the first two veterans from each community (Prairie du Sac and Sauk City) that died in World War II,” Hasheider said of the Lachmund-Cramer VFW Post in Prairie du Sac.
It was because of those ties that Hasheider originally decided to get involved.
“In some way, in some very minute way, this is our form of giving them a Purple Heart,” Hasheider said. “For giving us the life we have and because they were willing to fight for our country.”