‘Little Warriors’ lend hand, heart to grieving military families 

Bernadette Dugas spoke with passion to the assembled veterans at VFW Post 3750 in Luling.   

Dugas is the creator of God’s Little Warriors, under the banner of which she makes military bereavement gowns and cocoons for lost infants, either in utero or stillbirth, of military families. She donates the gowns to hospitals across the country and every gown is made from the uniform of an American soldier, and each comes with a card identifying the soldier who donated their uniform for the cause.   

All gowns are donated to hospitals free of charge. Dugas has worked with 40 military hospitals nationwide and others even far beyond – she notes she’s also worked with those in Italy, Japan and Guam.   

She always especially enjoys the opportunities to speak with military veterans in person, as she did on this day.   

“I think our military is overlooked a lot of times,” Dugas said. “They’re not as appreciated as they should be … to be able to do this for grieving military families, it’s a blessing and an honor for me.” 

It’s a calling for Dugas and God’s Little Warriors is her ministry.   

She began this journey when she was making angel (bereavement) gowns out of her own fabrics. After some time, people began sending her wedding gowns to make the bereavement gowns from.   

After sharing photos of the project on social media, a friend reached out and inquired about sending her husband’s Navy jacket to Dugas in order to make bereavement gowns for military families.   

“That was the start,” Dugas said. “I have such a profound respect for the military. It kind of gripped my heart … it all kind of exploded from there. Now, it’s all I do.” 

For Dugas, she is able to use her skillset to help others grieve. Her mother taught her to sew when she was in the fourth grade. By the time she was in junior high school, she was making her own clothes. Later, she opened Mermaid’s Masquerade in Houma, a costume store she owned for some time. 

“I’ve always been sewing. I like the designing and creating part of it,” Dugas said. “With military gowns, every single one is different. 

“The way I got into this, my pastor told us, ‘God has given us all a gift and it’s important to use that gift and give it to good.’ What is my gift? I can sew. The Lord guides me in this. I’m quite religious … this is His ministry and I’m just following His orders.” 

And, as she notes, each tells a different story. Dugas does not play it by ear as she goes – before starting each gown, she looks at the uniform that will supply the material and visualizes what will come of it.   

“Before I even begin, I have to ask how I’m going to repurpose this, recreate this,” Dugas said. “I have to stay as true to the garment and to the soldiers as I can. If he’s got medals, I want to put medals … those tags, those buttons, those patches on the gown. I want to stay as true as I can to that soldier.” 

She recently received a message from a military museum in Oklahoma that has offered to send several older uniforms after becoming aware of her mission.   

“I like the old uniforms a lot – there’s just a story that goes with them. You have garments from World War II, the Cold War, Vietnam … those soldiers need to be honored,” she said.  

Dugas leans on the donations of these uniforms to make her mission happen. Anyone interested in donating may contact Dugas via the God’s Little Warriors Facebook page.

 

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