U.S. Navy veteran Daniel Michael Hyacinthe observed how returning wounded veterans had no place to express themselves creatively. That’s when he met artist and designer, Tyler Way. Together, the two could see that the remarkable stories of survival and resilience these veterans had to tell simply weren’t being heard, and they felt the need to do something about it.
Their opportunity came when they were approached at a local event by Corporal Josh Hoffman, a former U.S. Marine who was paralyzed and rendered speechless by a sniper’s bullet. Through his nurse and communicator, they discovered that Hoffman had always wanted to create a t-shirt. Due to his severe injuries, the solution appeared to pair Hoffman with a designer to act as his arms, legs, and hands to create the shirt design he always wanted to create but was physically unable to. Through a variety of “Yes” or “No” questions in which Hoffman could shake or nod his head, Way gradually connected with Hoffman to understand his experience and desired message of his shirt design. Utilizing Hoffman’s complicated alphanumeric communication code, the two were able to finalize a t-shirt design. This pairing, of a wounded Hero with an Artist, sparked what would become the HERO[series].
Soon thereafter, [Fashion Has Heart] began the annual HERO[series] design week. Each year, [FHH] invites five wounded veterans, one from each branch of the armed forces, to Grand Rapids to collaborate with graphic designers. The result: apparel that embody the personal struggles and triumphs of these veterans.