Mt Pleasant News

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Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 16, 2018

Veteran’s Affair Director receives Quilt of Valor

Nov 01, 2017
Photo by: Submitted photo Roger Pittsenbarger, left, recently received a handmade quilt from Henry County’s chapter of Quilts of Valor. Pittsenbarger served in the U.S. Air Force and is currently the director of the Henry County Veteran’s Affairs.

By Karyn Spory, Mt. Pleasant News


Roger Pittsenbarger was pleasantly surprised when he received a phone call notifying him that he’d been nominated to receive a Quilt of Valor.

Pittsenbarger, who serves as director of Henry County Veteran’s Affairs, was at a meeting in Des Moines when his cellphone signaled he had a new voicemail. It was from Jane Messer, a member of the Quilts of Valor Foundation, telling him he’d been nominated to receive a quilt. “I called her back and I said ‘seriously?’” Pittsenbarger said he wasn’t necessarily shocked his name had been floated to Messer and the other members of the Quilts of Valor Foundation, but he was pleasantly surprised. “I was really quite taken back by that,” he said of the phone call.

Pittsenbarger served in the United States Air Force from 1969-1973. “I was in during the Vietnam War,” said Pittsenbarger. “That wasn’t the most popular conflict we were ever in. It’s kind of nice to be recognized for that period of time in conflict.”

Following his time in the military, Pittsenbarger spent 46 years in the restaurant business. “I opened the 1,000th Pizza Hut in Kansas,” he recounted.

Pittsenbarger eventually retired, but quickly learned the life of leisure wasn’t for him. “Sitting around watching TV for eight hours a day, or fishing for eight hours a day ... it didn’t fit into my groove,” he said with a chuckle. So Pittsenbarger waded back into the workforce, working part-time in the deli at Hy-Vee and also as the director of the Henry County Veteran’s Affairs office. “I’ve been doing this for four-and-a-half or five years now and enjoy it greatly,” he said of working with veterans. “It’s really rewarding, not only to get to know the veterans, but to get to assist them in their endeavors because it can be quite frustrating when you deal with the federal government.”

Pittsenbarger was presented with his quilt on Thursday, Oct. 26. “It was quite touching, actually,” he said.

Quilts of Valor Foundation was started in 2003 by Catherine Roberts, according to the organization’s website. Several years ago Messer and some friends went to a presentation from the foundation and felt it was a worthy cause. “We do this to give back,” said Messer.

Messer said it takes approximately one to two months to create a quilt. The Henry County chapter has a few quilts made up and on hand at any time. “As soon as someone turns in a name, we’re ready to give a quilt to the veteran.”

Messer said if the members of the group know the veteran they have been known to make quilts especially for them. “If we know they’ve been in the Army, we’ll try to use green in the pattern,” she said. Pittsenbarger’s quilt was one already assembled.

The quilt Pittsenbarger received has an intricate pattern. The navy blue quilt features a boarder of patchwork ivory crosses. But it’s the center of the quilt every eye is drawn to. In the center is an American Flag. Across the stars and stripes the quilters have sewn what looks like curled parchment that reads “Liberty and Justice For All”. Below the parchment, a Bald Eagle, ready to land.

“If anything touched me, it was that,” said Pittsenbarger of the design. “I’m quite patriotic. Anything with the American Flag and the eagle really sticks in my head, I guess.

“I’m very grateful,” Pittsenbarger said of receiving the quilt. The quilt is displayed in his home.

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