Rodney Bly of Middletown has heard a lot of scary sounds during his time serving overseas in the Navy.
Bly, who did several tours in Iraq, says the dangers were not easy to get used to.
“Bombs were coming in and mortars and rockets every day,” Bly said.
Bly said when he returned home, he had to fight some issues that he could not leave behind.
“I was angry all the time and throwing things and getting scared of loud noises, and my wife was like, ‘what’s wrong with you?'” said Bly, “I said I’m fine and she’s like, ‘you’re not fine.'”
Rodney came up with an unusual idea while he was attending a Rascal Flatts USO concert in Fallujah, Iraq. He saw hundreds of troops from all branches of the military in different uniforms.
“People were dancing and singing and clapping, and I thought of my grandma making blankets out of farmer’s jeans and I thought it would be neat to make a blanket out of soldiers uniforms,” he said.
Bly shipped 1,000 uniforms home. cut them up, then stitched them up into blankets and bags. He says a business was born and he was re-born.
Rodney is a father of three. He likes to make custom teddy bears for children of the deployed. He says it does not replace their parents’ absence, but there is still a connection.
“When a child has a bear, he knows that is part of his parent’s uniform and he’s holding on to that,” said Bly, “The child can sleep with it at night, take it wherever he goes and think about how they will come back soon, hopefully, and be with them again.”
Bly says that when he returns uniforms to members in quilt or bag form, many are reduced to tears because it reminds them of where they were and who they were with during a deployment or mission.