Since 2003, volunteers have sewn quilts for nearly 160,000 active duty service members and veterans.

But Wednesday’s batch of “Quilts of Valor” delivered in Olympia was different. The 50 recipients live in Drexel House, an apartment complex for recently-homeless veterans.

“I’m deeply touched and moved,” said Walter Simonsen, who said he’s battled PTSD and alcoholism ever since returning from the Korean War. He’s also been homeless most of his adult life.

“It’s a dead end,” said Simonsen. “I’ve tried suicide twice.”

He is grateful for being able to live in Drexel House, the Catholic Community Services apartment complex, where he pays 30 percent of his monthly income as rent.

Receiving the quilt Wednesday made him feel loved as a veteran.

“I got some medals, and I got some ribbons,” said Simonsen, wrapped in his new quilt, “but this means more than any of them.”

“It makes you want to keep on stitching,” said Linda Schmitt, founder of the Tumwater-based Ruby Street Quiltworks Quilts of Valor Group.
She estimated the group’s 30 volunteers spent about the last year piecing and quilting this year’s batch.

Schmitt said it’s time well spent.

“We say there’s love and prayers, laughter and tears, stitched into the quilt. And they feel it,” said Schmitt.