2016 HERO[series]

Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.


Alesha Barron
Joseph Green
Michael Roberts
Ryan Groves
Stephanie Shannon


Julian Rucker/Tyler Way
Kyle Berryman
James Naugle
Ana Alvarez
Katie Krcmarik/Tyler Way

Video: Josh BeebeRay Rushing
Portraits: Cody Ross (Quicken Loans)

Venue: Swords Into Plowshares Gallery
Partners: AIGA Detroit, Detroit Boots


The 2016 HERO[series] was the next big next step for [HAS HEART]. After conducting four annual design projects in Grand Rapids, this year would be the first time the project has been traveled to a different city.

This was the next step in building a repeatable program with AIGA and its 70+ chapters across the country. We packed up our cars and drove three hours East to Detroit to work with Detroit-area Veterans and AIGA Detroit designer members.

Working with local Veterans organization, Detroit Boots, we were able to select five Detroit-area Veterans to work with five AIGA Detroit designers at the Swords Into Plowshares Gallery, which is located right outside the home of the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.

The Media House creative team from Quicken Loans helped film the project, shoot the portraits, and even hosted us for a mouth-watering lunch from a Detroit favorite: Slows BBQ.


Veteran: Michael Roberts, Myra Roberts (Wife) | Artist: James Naugle

Military families endure some of the toughest challenges possible; not only during deployments, but sometimes even more so after they return home. Battling mental illness, U.S. Marine Veteran Michael Roberts and his wife Myra struggled to regain their lives together.

During their toughest times, Michael credits his wife Myra’s love, patience, prayer, and understanding to strengthen him through this new battle that they enduring together.

Having originally met while Michael was stationed in Japan, the world map represents their travels and the beauty in cultural differences they experienced along the way.

The drum sticks, music notes, and vinyl represent the impact music has made on their family and how it brought them all together within the backyard of the Motown. The heart on the front of the shirt symbolizes his wife’s belief that, “Love is the main ingredient needed to heal the invisible wounds of the heart, soul and mind.”

Their design encourages individuals, families, communities, & societies to come together in love, patience, & empathy to overcome any differences in order to live in harmony and to “Beat As One.”


Veteran: Alesha Barron, US Marines  | Artists: Julian RuckerTyler Way

Following the ups and downs both during and after her service, U.S. Marines Veteran Alesha Barron was inspired to never again let the difficulties of everyday life negatively affect her and her sons.

Symbolizing her service in the U.S. Marines, their design contains a digital camouflage print scattered about with waves representing the the challenges Barron has faced in life.

Barron had recently tattooed the Latin saying “Momento Vivere” on her skull, meaning “remember to live,” to remind herself to never forget to live, but to instead consciously remember to remain strong and choose to live. The design was done in traditional-tattoo style as a nod to Barron’s love for tattoos.

Their design encourages others to take a moment to pause and reflect, smell the roses, and always “remember to live” happily and peacefully.


Veteran: Joseph Green, US Marines | Artist: Kyle Berryman

As a Vietnam-era U.S. Marine Veteran who has decades of dedicated service in helping rebuild his fellow Veterans, Joseph Green has experienced and witnessed the trauma, illness, and breakdown of Veterans’ bodies: physically and mentally.

Using his experience in working with the Michigan Welfare Rights in supporting Veterans, Green wanted to demonstrate the cyclical pattern he’s recognized among generations of Veterans.

Whether it’s feeling “passed off” in the Veterans’ Affairs system and not receiving the support truly needed to live or seeing the lack of respect the general public has for Veterans, he not only notices the disconnect Veterans feel in the world, but also the great opportunity we have today to break this cycle.

Encrypted in Morse Code reads, “Challenging Yourself to Help” and “History is Cyclical,” a word of caution for American society to have more humanitarian respect for younger Veterans in order to avoid the mistakes made to previous generations of Veterans.

The DNA in the design represents the past, present, and future of Veterans’ health, a nod to the physical and mental breakdown of Veterans’ bodies from trauma and illness.


Veteran: Ryan Groves, US Army | Artist: Ana Alvarez

U.S. Army Veteran Ryan Groves has been through dark times. He lost his leg, suffered a punctured lung, and was close to dying on numerous occasions.

However, their design, “Know The Otherside,” demonstrates that you cannot experience the good without the bad, and vice versa.

It were these dark times that led Groves to be grateful to still be alive and develop an overall positive outlook on life.

The sun and the moon in their design is a modern interpretation of the yin and yang symbol that describes that opposite forces can actually be interdependent. This is reflective of Groves using his difficult times to inspire a new perspective of life.

The words “Semper Fi” mean “always faithful,” and lines orbiting around the yin and the yang, much like an atom, symbolize the cyclicality of everyday life.

Their design is a call-to-action for civilians to “Know The Otherside;” to get to know Veterans and their points of view, and to avoid being presumptuous of them.

It also encourages individuals to recognize the “other side” of any situation, bad or good, in order to gain a more balanced and positive outlook on life just as Groves did.


Veteran: Stephanie Shannon, US Army | Artist: Katie KrcmarikTyler Way

The entangled chaos of the camo pattern represents the struggle Sgt. Stephanie Shannon faced after she stepped up and was brave enough to serve her country.

After dealing with MST (Military Sexual Trauma) on top of GWI (Gulf War Illness) and PTS, Shannon had to now become brave enough to heal.

Her faith as an ordained minister and passion to empower women Veterans have become a driving force, which have led her to become a #1 Best-Selling author, entrepreneur, consultant, and more.

You can purchase her books: Battling the Storm Within and Our Voices United on Amazon.com — be sure to enlist in Smile.Amazon.com and select “Fashion Has Heart” as your charity organization of choice. A small percentage of all of your Amazon purchases will go back to [HAS HEART].


For our 5th annual ArtPrize exhibit, the building at the Veterans Memorial Park was made available to [HAS HEART] once again, which was the perfect setting to bring back these five Detroit-area Veterans’ designs.

To kick-off our exhibit, we had a very special gathering of Veteran Habitat Build volunteers along with a team from Home Depot to celebrate the final project home build project to complete the home of our 2014 HERO[series] participant, Eric Lund from our Detroit Pistons project.


The project was so well received when we were initially in Detroit, including in the local media, that [HAS HEART] worked with Bedrock Detroit to open a temporary pop-up shop in the heart of downtown Detroit that was open throughout the Christmas shopping season.