Bringing Wounded Soldiers And Artists Together To Tell Stories On Tees

by Threadless / None /

We just launched The Corporal Hoffman Series. This series is part of Threadless Causes, community-based design for the power of good. Each tee in this series tells the story of a wounded war veteran. And 25% of the sale of each of the tees will benefit Fashion Has Heart to support and benefit the wounded war veterans and heroes through art, design, and fashion.

The Corporal Hoffman series brought together five wounded American soldiers from different military branches and five artists from all over the country. The two groups met for the first time this June in Grand Rapids, Michigan and collaborated to share each of the wounded soldiers’ powerful stories through graphic design.

These wearable works of art are featured not only on our site, but also at a special exhibit at ArtPrize, an international art contest showcasing work from over 1,000 artists now open in downtown Grand Rapids.

Team U.S. Coast Guard: Adapt and Overcome by Seth Herman and Petty Officer Michael Bell image Hero Story: While stationed at the U.S. Coast Guard Sector in Detroit in 2007, Electrician’s Third Mate Michael Bell suffered a massive intracranial bleed (stroke), rendering his entire right side of his body paralyzed. He spent the next 18 months at the Rehabilitation Institute of St. Louis where he had to re-learn how to walk, talk, eat, and do many other routine activities. Throughout his rehab journey, EM3 Bell has worked with many therapists, doctors, and other injured veterans. The support along his path to recovery has encouraged him to go back to school and dedicate his civilian profession to helping others. EM3 Bell is currently working towards a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling.

EM3 Bell credits much of his recovery to his love for cycling. He has competed in numerous cycling events including the Tour De Corn, Tour De Cure, Warrior Games, and the Multiple Sclerosis 150. Supporting charities through these races is one of EM3 Bell’s ways to give back to others.

Design Story: Even after a massive stroke forever changed this young man’s life, artist Seth Herman witnessed the uplifting attitude that Mike maintains. The Coast Guard motto, “Always Ready,” inspired Mike’s personal motto, “Adapt & Overcome.” When life doesn’t go as planned, you have to adapt to your new circumstances and work to overcome the obstacles in your way. This shirt represents the power Mike now feels when racing his bike to benefit others.

Team U.S. Air Force: Through The Fire by Chuck Anderson and Tech Sergeant Isreal Del Toro - USAF image Hero Story: Tech Sergeant Israel Del Toro’s job was to call in air strikes but, in December 2005, he received instructions to ambush Afghan insurgents when his Humvee rolled over a roadside bomb.

Over 80 percent of his body was burned. He was later told by doctors he had nearly died three times and that he would likely never walk again or breathe without the use of a respirator. Del Toro was devastated. To make matters worse, doctors gave Del Toro a 50 percent chance of survival.

Against all odds, Del Toro embarked on a four year mission to prove to his superiors that he could still serve his country. He was out of the hospital in less than three months and began campaigning for re-enlistment in the Air Force, making him the first 100 percent combat-disabled Air Force technician to re-enlist.

Design Story: Inspired by a tattoo on his severely burned arm (inked by Kat Von D, celebrity tattoo artist), artist Chuck Anderson added his own design style to Israel’s personal body art. The Phoenix represents Israel with his arms raised up among the flames. Israel has adopted the motto, “Through these flames, I am stronger.” This shirt represents the strength, courage, and confidence that Israel embodies on a daily basis.

Team U.S. Army: Life Is.. by Phil Jones and Specialist Danielle Green Byrd - US ARMY image Hero Story: Army Specialist Danielle Green-Byrd was born and raised on the south side of Chicago. Overcoming a rough childhood, she earned full-ride athletic and academic scholarships to her dream school, the University of Notre Dame. Following a very successful basketball career, Green-Byrd followed her second dream: enlisting in the U.S. Army.

While on patrol in Iraq, Green-Byrd was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. After she regained consciousness in the hospital, she discovered that her dominant arm had been removed. The former “South Paw” shooting guard immediately thought of one thing: her wedding ring. She had been married just weeks prior to her injury while back in Chicago for a short leave. It was not long after she returned home and learned how to live without her dominant arm when her husband unexpectedly passed away. Through all of life’s ups and downs, Green-Byrd continues to give back to others. She received two Master’s Degrees and is now providing therapy counseling to returning wounded soldiers and their families.

Design Story: After learning Danielle’s remarkable life journey, artist Phil Jones kept thinking of the saying, “Life may close one door so that it may open another.” This design represents Danielle’s journey. Each door is a symbol of her path, from the door knob changing orientation to accommodate her lost arm, to the chapel door being left open to symbolize her husband’s passing. This shirt is a daily reminder to continue pushing forward, no matter what door may close.

Team U.S. Marine Corps: Relentless by Tyler Way and Corporal Josh Hoffman - USMC image Hero Story: While leading his group of Marines in pursuit of a suspected terrorist in Fallujah, Iraq, Corporal Josh Hoffman and his team were led down a dead end -- and soon found out it was a trap. The first shot rang out. One man was down; it was CPL Hoffman. The sniper’s bullet left him paralyzed from the neck down. His vocal cords were severely damaged, leaving him unable to speak. Now he uses an alphanumeric communication code. He nods his head “Yes” or “No” as his aids guess each row of numbers and letters.

Design Story: This design represents Josh, before and after his injury. It shows his love and passion for his white Ford Mustang. It boasts his relentless spirit, courage, strength and, above all else, loyalty. As a U.S. Marine, CPL Hoffman embodies every part of their motto, “Semper Fi,” which can be translated to “Always Loyal.”

The English Bulldog is known as the “unofficial” mascot of the U.S. Marines because of its relentless tenacity. This mid-run, frozen pose was inspired by a vintage WWII poster, creating a perfect combination with the classic American muscle car logo.

Team U.S. Marine Corps: Often Tested, Always Faithful, Brothers Forever by Priscilla Wilson and Corproal Chris Wiers - USMC image Hero Story: Combat Engineer Chris Wiers enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 2001 before the 9/11 terrorist attacks and while a Junior at Grand Rapids Christian High School. Coming from a family who served, Wiers always knew he would as well.

On his second deployment in 2005, Wiers was part of a lead security team for convoys. They would go ahead of the other 50-100 vehicles traveling in a convoy and check for mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). If anything was found, they would destroy it before the others arrived. Although he normally rode in the front passenger seat, Wiers allowed his teammate to sit in front.

Wiers said he never heard the blast. His Humvee drove over an undetected IED and he was thrown from the vehicle. The two men in the front seats died immediately. Wiers was left with two broken vertebrae, torn shoulder nerves, a radial head fracture on his left arm, damage to both eyes, and shrapnel covering his legs, arms, hands, face, and eyes.

Design Story: Chris knew immediately what he wanted his design to be like. It was the difficult task for artist Priscilla Wilson to make it a reality. The design is a memorial to those who have shed blood on the dangerous roads of Iraq. The Marine motto reads, “Often Tested, Always Faithful, Brothers Forever.”

Leave a Comment

jeffreyg profile pic Alumni

such great interpretations of their stories. good job everyone!

i especially love, Life Is...


Powerful stories, I'm actually in tears reading these.


Meeting these heroes was one of the most inspiring things that has ever happened to me. They are such incredible individuals.

visalus ambassador

Nice stories.The finest and most creative images I've ever seen!


wow. incredible partnership. great job, all!


Suck it America , you start all of your wars and kill your own people, so face it ! You have bombarded Serbian buildings civilians in downtown of Belgrade, we'd fight you back if we had the tools!

the czar

Give me a break mlad, why not talk about how you slaughter each other in your own country?


What that has to do with America ??


these are awesome

mladjacool Why are you even on this blog? You obviously are clueless and probably just trying to get attention. Can it and go away.

@mladjacool - you completely miss the point of these shirts, they're not trying to trivialize anyone's suffering or anguish they're simply expressing the amazing courage and perseverance of individuals tested in ways we can't even imagine. Why you feel the need to thump your chest and drag politics or nationalism into the discussion speaks your very small minded view of the world, what has happened to these individuals would be both tragedy and triumph no matter where they were from and which nation they served for. So please take a step back and realize that your comments only do disservice to yourself and not the extraordinary human beings whom these shirts were based off of.


Truly inspiring, moving stories. I had partly guessed the meaning of the doors on "Life Is..", but thank you for drawing my attention to the re-orientation of the door knobs, and the significance of the open door. Now I can tell people the true story behind "the doors".

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