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A Quilt of Valor
by DJ Kauffman Correspondent · February 23rd, 2017

A Quilt of Valor, made one piece at a time, was presented to patriot Barb (Burmeister) Kula of Anamosa at the Marion Hy-Vee on Tuesday, Feb. 14, by Kay Prasil of Lisbon and Ralph Osenbaugh of Cedar Rapids. Kula said she most likely will frame her made-from-the heart-and-hands heirloom and then later be buried with it when the time comes.

According to Quilt of Valor Founder Catherine Roberts, "Quilts of Valor would be the civilian equivalent of a Purple Heart award ... Quilts of Valor would be 'awarded,' not just passed out like magazines or videos. A Quilt of Valor would say unequivocally, 'Thank you for your service, sacrifice, and valor' in serving our nation in combat." []

Kula's outstanding military service in the Iowa National Guard began when she was 21 years of age. It includes working with administrative records and transportation. She said she was in convoys, fueled vehicles, and hauled equipment, food, and supplies. Kula worked in transportation in Iraq during 2003-2004, and said she drove everything except a tank.

She served 24 years on and off in the United States military, including a year stationed in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2011. During this time, she was only 10 minutes away from Abbottabad, Pakistan, when Osama bin Laden was captured. People near the mission were happy when they heard of the raid, she said.

Kula was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) toward the end of 2011 as a result of her service in Iraq and Afghanistan. Her symptoms include fear of confinement, large crowds and loud noises, as well as depression. These are attributed to her experiences overseas. She currently attends a military support group and visits the VA in Iowa City to help with her condition. "A body of research shows a strong link between levels of combat stress and PTSD." []

Her constant companion is her PTSD support dog, Charlie, who plays a vital role in her recovery. He is always by her side. "He's my little buddy," she said. According to, "PTSD Service Dogs can literally change the life of a Veteran or other persons with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD Service dogs can help a Veteran remain calm by preventing people from crowding around or rushing up behind in public places which will provide a comfortable space for the Veteran or PTSD sufferer."

Kay Prasil of Lisbon, began her quilt-making hobby about three years ago after retiring as a full-time elementary teacher in the Anamosa School District for 28 years. And even though she only had eight weeks of sewing in high school prior to this, her talent and enthusiasm for quilting began to emerge during the process.

Prasil started quilting by taking a tub of old dresses her mother-in-law had saved and began making memory wall hanging quilts for her granddaughters with the material from them. "That is how I got started. I liked it. It was a lot of fun. So I kept quilting," she said.

Since then, Prasil has made several quilts, including a wedding quilt for a nephew and one made of military charms she gave away at a breakfast where Kula saw it and asked her friend of 20 years if she would make her one. Prasil said, "Yes, I will make you a quilt."

It was Ricki Onstott, Prasil's neighbor and quilt-making partner, who suggested sewing a Quilt of Valor for Kula instead of a charms one after learning of Kula's service record.

For the quilt, Onstott sewed the three layers together once Kay cut, laid out, stitched the pieces together in blocks, and put the blocks together. Onstott then gave it back to Prasil who bound the edges.

Prasil had never made one before, she said, so she got a patriotic pattern and added the valiant eagle design. "I'm good at tweaking patterns," she said. A tag was finally added, making it an official Quilt of Valor.

Veteran Ralph Osenbaugh of Cedar Rapids presented the quilt to Kula. He was also surprised when given his own Quilt of Valor three years ago at a special Vietnam reception in Branson, Mo., where military personnel from across the nation had gathered, he said.

Prasil and Kula met through their husbands David Prasil and Gene Kula who are retired Iowa National Guard veterans. The four of them have been meeting for almost two years every three months at the Marion Hy-Vee. They join retirees from the Iowa National Guard in Cedar Rapids for breakfast and conversation. Their next breakfast is scheduled for May 9 at 8:30 a.m.
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