HEARTS VETERANS MUSEUM OF TEXAS FOUNDER & CAMP HOPE ADVOCATE
On Veterans Day, November 11, 1993, the course of my life was changed forever. As a result of my military display in the window of the Bluebonnet antique shop, two magical things happened. I fell in love with a unique group of people called veterans. The seed for the HEARTS Veterans Museum was sown in my heart. Building on that experience I organized the veterans and started to take “the show on the road” to different schools each year, turning the schools into a museum and educating the students with the veterans themselves as the educators. The concept was different but it worked. The veterans and children connected in an amazing way.
Life is a journey with God at the controls. Every event and every person in your life has purpose. You may not know or understand at the time but eventually these “threads” will come together to weave a beautiful pattern with God as the Weaver. The year 1997 was a pivotal point in this story. One of my family members was diagnosed with PTSD. I met Bill Butler, a Vietnam combat veteran who had written a book on PTSD. With Bill’s help and other veterans I started educating myself about his phenomenon. What I learned was earth shattering. The unseen wounds of the soul, heart and minds are just as horrible, bloody and gory as being shot or losing an arm or leg. This silent killer called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a deadly enemy that is misunderstood, underestimated, under-treated and undiagnosed. It is striking our veterans as swiftly and accurately as an AK47 bullet. It destroys lives and never goes away. What many people do not know is that PTSD has other casualties beside veterans. My mission became educating myself and finding some way I could help elevate this pain by helping those with PTSD and their families.
In 2006, God sent two other veterans into my life; David DeKerlegand (Global War on Terror) and Jay Kimbrough (Vietnam), both combat veterans. At the time little did I know what an impact they would have on my life and the HEARTS Veterans Museum. Since first meeting David in 2006, David has become the Director of Camp Hope. Camp Hope and the PTSD Foundation of America was a godsend; an answer to my prayers, a place where veterans in my community (my friends, my special family) can get help. As the door was opened between Camp Hope and The Veterans Museum, the Museum became a natural conduit to locate and refer those combat veterans suffering from their duties in our armed forces to a faith based program and a source of healing at Camp Hope. The place is so aptly named. The word “hope” appears 140 times in the Bible. I was raised by Godly parents and taught from an early age about the three graces in 1st Cor. 13: faith, hope and love. These three work and hand to accomplish great things.
Why does this word hope appear so many times in so many ways: Because hope keeps us going when times are tough, as a Bataan death march survivor told me “you just keep putting one foot in front of the other – not giving up”- knowing that hard times, sad times, horrible times will pass, leaving scars but able to persevere. The sun will shine again and then we need to look for rainbows. I have been so thankful and blessed that God has sent all these “threads” Into my life and woven a beautiful pattern of faith, hope and love.
The museum has been created to provide a non-threatening environment, where veterans can validate their feelings, be honored and help educate future generations. The museum works closely with Camp Hope to help veterans in any way we can.
If you would like more information about the HEARTS Veterans museum please check out our website or visit in person at 463 State Hwy 75N, Huntsville, TX. www.heartsmuseum.com (936)295-5959