The combination of art, design and fashion supports wounded veteran heroes

Even if you’re anti-war, you should still support our troops. At least that’s what Michael Hyacinthe, the creator of the Fashion Has Heart organization, hopes you’ll do.

“Someone volunteered on behalf of you,” he says, sharing the reason why he believes we have the freedoms we do here in the United States.

About four years ago, Hyacinthe was living in Colorado and volunteering with the Veterans and Military Families for Obama presidential campaign. He spoke with a lot of veterans during this time and began to understand their needs better. A former Navy Seabee for eight years, Hyacinthe says this helped him realize that “vets need to help each other out.”

A few years later, his wife Sara’s cousin, Corporal DeBoer, was killed in combat in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. While he and his wife’s family were grieving, the conversations he had a few years earlier kept coming back to Hyacinthe. It was then that he came up with the idea for Fashion Has Heart.

“It was time for me, as a vet, to do something,” says Hyacinthe.

The unfortunate family death occurred around the time of ArtPrize and that’s how art ended up playing a part in the organization. Hyacinthe decided that the combination of art, design and fashion would be a good, non-partisan way to support wounded veterans.

The first design project, called the Corporal Hoffman Series, was inspired by Marine Corporal Josh Hoffman, a wounded veteran now paralyzed from the neck down after being hit by a bullet during combat in Iraq. One of his dreams, Hyacinthe learned, was to design a T-shirt.

During the week of June 18, five wounded veteran heroes -- one from each military branch -- were partnered with five designers to collaborate in a visual way to show the soldiers’ stories. These designs will transfer to T-shirts, handbags and military boots.

A special exhibit of the story-inspired designs will be on display during ArtPrize this fall where the public can purchase T-shirts and handbags featuring 15 different designs, three from each veteran. This merchandise is being printed by Threadless in Chicago and the veterans had the chance to visit the headquarters on June 20 and meet the owners.
 
On June 21, the five heroes worked with designers from the Bates Footwear design team at the Wolverine World Wide headquarters in Rockford. A limited edition of Bates military boots will be created using the veterans’ designs as well.

The wounded heroes involved with Fashion Has Heart’s Corporal Hoffman Series Design Project include Marine Corporal Josh Hoffman and Air Force Tech Sergeant Israel Del Toro, Army Specialist Danielle Green-Byrd, Coast Guard Electrician’s Mate Third Class Michael Bell, Marine Corporal Combat Engineer Chris Wiers and Navy HN Darrell Butler.

The design partners are Chuck Anderson, Priscilla Wilson, Seth Herman, Phil Jones and Tyler Way.

For the next design project, yet to be named, Hyacinthe would like to get more people in the community involved and also acquire more partners. He says he is grateful for all of the collaboration, sponsorship and event partners who helped out for the Corporal Hoffman Series Design Project.
 
Hyacinthe hopes that all people in the U.S., regardless of political affiliation or views on war, “start understanding what the soldiers sacrifice on behalf of them.”

Here are a few ways you can support the Fashion Has Heart organization and wounded veterans:

-    Visit Fashion Has Heart online to learn more about them.

-    Donate by clicking on the Donate link on the site. You’ll be redirected to PayPal.

-    Visit the Corporal Hoffman Series Design Project during ArtPrize (Sept. 19 through Oct. 7) at 138 East Fulton Street.

-    Like Fashion Has Heart on Facebook.

-    Follow @supportfhh on Twitter.

-    Thank a veteran for their service and let them know you appreciate what they’ve done.

Source: Michael Hyacinthe, CEO of Fashion Has Heart

Writer: Heidi Stukkie, Do Good Editor
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