Jennifer Warner can still remember the last words her husband said to her and her son.
It was Labor Day weekend 2010. The soldier told his now 14-year-old son, “I’m not home, you’re the man of the house.”
He then said to Warner, “I love you.”
On the following Monday, two soldiers in dress uniforms knocked on Warner’s door.
“I opened the door, and it was shocking to me. I screamed and yelled,” she recalled. Her husband had fallen in his barracks at Fort Polk, La., and died.
He had just finished a 15-month deployment, and was to be stationed at Fort Polk for the next year. Warner stayed behind in Killeen.
More than three years later, Warner credits her strength to her belief in God and her family’s support.
“I believe in God and I have faith and say prayers every single day. My husband’s been gone over three years and I will not forget him. I owe him. He gave me a better life. I pray someday I’ll see him again,” Warner said.
To share her strength with others, Warner decided to participate in a fashion show to raise money for the American Widow Project.
The show will feature the latest styles available at Dillard’s in Killeen, which will be worn down the runway by military widows.
Proceeds will go to support the widow project and Fort Hood Survivor Outreach Services, which supports 270 spouses in the Central Texas area.
The project, a San Marcos-based nonprofit, provides military widows with support through inspiring and empowering community programs, said Taryn Davis, who founded the project after her husband died in combat in Afghanistan. Since 2008, the project has helped more than 800 widows.
“I think the fact that the models are military spouses and widows is what makes the event special,” Davis said. “These women and what they give and sacrifice on a daily basis is incredible.”
The fashion show is hosted by students in a public relations class at Davis’ and her husband’s alma mater — Texas State University in San Marcos. The group hopes to raise $10,000 for the organization, and get good marks in the course.
As the models walk down the runway, the audience will learn about who they are, who their spouse was and what they are doing now.
“It celebrates that after tragic events, they can still support each other,” said Sequoia Owens, a public relations major working on the fashion show.
Military widow Angela Garcia said she isn’t too nervous about walking down the runway — she’s excited.
“I’m in a lot of Facebook widow groups, but it’s different when you have a face to put to a name. We share stories and laugh and cry together,” she said. “I hope (the audience) takes away what our life is like for a little bit, and they see our strength.”
Rose L. Thayer is the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. She joined the paper in February 2011 as a health and military reporter. View her complete profile Here. You can contact Rose L. Thayer at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary.