Watching. Waiting. Worrying. Night after sleepless night, Dena Stahl got up, took care of her children, worked, managed her household and anxiously awaited the safe return of her husband, Sergeant Travis Stahl, from the war in Afghanistan. When Dena learned from her husband about all the soldiers who didn’t receive care packages from home, she teamed up with longtime friend, photographer Danielle Thiery Camp, to remedy that.
Together they founded Pinups for Soldiers (PUFS), a nonprofit group that produces an annual World War II style calendar to raise funds for our troops overseas. With the 10th anniversary of 9-11 coming up this Sunday, we caught up with Dena to learn more about Pinups for Soldiers, their 2012 calendar, their Sept. 10 Memorial Ride/Poker Run and other upcoming events to support their worthy cause.
How did you meet Danielle Camp, and what made you two decide to start Pinups for Soldiers?
Danielle and I have been friends for over 18 years. Danielle wanted to do a pinup shoot and asked if I was interested in helping her build her portfolio. I reached out to my friends for ideas, and one of them mentioned that she had always wanted to do a pinup calendar. It was March 2010 and my husband, SGT Travis Stahl was deployed to Afghanistan serving our country. During his deployment I became aware that there were many soldiers who did not receive care packages from home. Travis began giving items from the care packages I was sending to those soldiers. We decided that if we were going to make a pinup calendar, we were going to make it a nonprofit and use it to raise money so that we could send care packages to soldiers stationed overseas.
Tell us about having your husband deployed.
Having a husband deployed is one of the hardest things I have ever been through. A year of sleepless nights waiting on a phone call, email or text to confirm he is okay, the constant worry and not knowing where he is or what is going on, the fear that enters your body any time there is a knock on the front door, the empty spot in the bed beside me, handling everything on the home front on my own…is all very hard. However I am honored to be a soldier’s wife. He is my husband, my hero, and his dedication not only to me and our family, but to our amazing country makes me so proud.
How many units does PUFS help? Do you have a most memorable request for assistance?
Currently we are supporting three units totaling almost 200. The units are stationed in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait. We have a unit that is about to deploy, bringing us to almost 600! We are always touched when we receive emails from soldiers. For me, they are all memorable. The requests we get range from necessities to soldiers wanting pictures. Our motto is “Brightening Lives Protecting Ours,” and that is our mission and we take it to heart. We feel as if the American Soldier is a true patriot and should be honored and appreciated. We want them all to know that they are not forgotten.
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