Captain James Van Thach, USA (Ret.) is a highly decorated United States Army veteran who was wounded twice in the line of duty in Iraq. He is a Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient, and is the first Vietnamese-American to become an advisor to the New Iraqi Army. In recognition of his service, Captain James Van Thach was given the honorary title of Brigadier General by the Iraqi government. He is a native of Bellerose, Queens where he resides today. After graduating from Touro Law School, Captain James Van Thach volunteered for a two year tour of duty in Iraq where he was first injured in an IED explosion. After recovering from those injuries, he was injured again during a rocket attack, which exploded less than 20 meters from where he was standing.
As a result of those injuries, James retired from the Army in 2009, and in May of 2012 was invited to participate in Team Training at Canine Companions for Independence in Medford, NY. James was matched with his service dog and now constant companion, Liz. Since receiving Liz, James has gained more self-confidence and persevered through his injuries and was strong enough in 2013 to take a tour to Afghanistan on Operation Proper Exit to speak to over 1,500 troops about his wounds and how having his service dog has changed his life. He has been a tireless supporter and spokesperson for Canine Companions Wounded Veterans Initiative speaking to other wounded veterans about the difference an assistance dog can make in their lives.
- MCMXCIV (1994) is the year Thach enlisted in the Army. MMXIII (2013) was his most recent tour to Afghanistan to speak to 1,500 troops about canine companions and how they can save a veterans’ life.
- The silhouette of Lady Justice and the Statue of Liberty were combined to represent Thach’s legal educational achievements and his hometown near New York City.
- Lady Justice is holding a U.S. Army saber and the “Scale of Truth & Fairness.” She is also wearing the crown of the Statue of Liberty.
- Within the ribbon is a heart and star, representing Thach as a Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient.
- The branches, ropes, and leaves signify Thach reaching out to other veterans in an attempt to raise awareness about veteran suicide.
- The black represents black gun powder used during the Revolutionary War and the Gold represents the gold buttons worn on the uniform of the U.S. Continental Army.
- The American flag signifies what he fought to defend and to uphold the U.S. Constitution.
- On the boot shafts, there’s are images of soldiers lined up, applauding Thach on his personal fight and for returning to Afghanistan to show others how to accept the help they need. Thach returned to the warzone, despite numerous severe injuries, to speak to troops about how he persevered by fighting to stay alive. A casket in one of the pictures represents the troops that have been lost to suicide.
- “1 Vet Per 65″ represents the statistic that one veteran every 65 minutes commits suicide, an average of 22 vets per day.
- Embossed on the heel is “SOS,” which represents that there is help for vets if they seek it. They can prevent their own problems if they ask for help.
- On the tongue label, “Fight On” represents that after the war is over, they must still fight for their life.
- “Persevere” embossed on the heel collar is a daily reminder to Thach and his fellow veterans that they must persevere through their struggles to survive.
From midwest collegiate to SoCal designer, Kayla Vallar leads a multifaceted lifestyle as a designer, artist, and athlete based in Los Angeles, CA. Her passion to unite designs/apparel and social responsibility, is driven by her goals to be an innovative designer and future world class Track & Field athlete. She compliments her creative, active lifestyle working as an art teacher for KidsArt Inc.
With a Bachelors in Art, she expanded her knowledge with a degree in Apparel Industry Management. This lifelong designer/artist enjoys a wide body of work from custom renderings, photoshop editing, advertisement, typeface, layout design, to apparel design. This new independent designer cliental range from local businesses, establish apparel companies, and educational institutes.