The Strength Behind the Strong website. Proudly supporting our friends and family in the U.S. military, including Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.


The Strength Behind The Strong was founded by Christine Hofmann-Bourque, who is proud to have a husband in the Army, three brothers in the Navy and Army, and a sister-in-law in the Army. Christine is also a professional journalist. Read our first post to find out why this website is so close to her heart. More >>

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Entries in Crafts (3)


America the Beautiful: Catching up, cookies, and new crafts

Despite the appearance of quiet on this website recently, a lot has been going on behind the scenes, including a PCS (permanent change of station) to Washington, D.C. And the Christmas spirit is already in the air! We’ve begun to receive emails from folks who would love to participate in Operation Cookie Overload again this holiday season, so we’re on the hunt for some overseas military units who want to be on the receiving end of all our cookie bakers’ sweet treats. (To learn about Operation Cookie 2011, read this and this and this.) Stay tuned for updates. 

For some Friday fun, Jennifer Savo is sharing some more of her all-American artwork. One of her first creations was a portrait of Abraham Lincoln, below, made out of license plates. (For the how-to, see “Honest! Abe Lincoln is reimagined in license plates.”) She also cut, glued, and nailed together this five-foot-wide American flag, below, also made out of license plates. (I’m lucky enough to have persuaded my sister Jennifer to give it to me.)

Most recently, Jennifer was inspired by artist Matthew Heller, who often turns song lyrics into paintings. Jennifer stenciled the lyrics to “America, the Beautiful” on a large canvas, below, to hang in her living room. It was the recessional song at her wedding, which took place four days after the 9/11 attacks. There was not a dry eye in the church. 

If you know a deployed military member who would like to receive an Operation Cookie Overload care package, please feel free to email Christine privately at Have a great weekend!



You’re a Grand Old Flag! 

Happy birthday, USA! As always, our thoughts are with all members of our military who can’t be home today. As a lobster-loving New Englander (at least until the Army moves us in another year), I’m celebrating the holiday by adding another red, white, and blue item to our home with this needlepoint flag. I may be the slowest stitcher in this great land, so here’s hoping it’s finished by July 4, 2012. Happy Fourth!


Sew cute! crafters sell funky accessories made from military uniforms

Most people look at a pile of ACUs or BDUs and think, “Ugh. More laundry.” Army wife Courtney Jordan took a more creative approach to her husband’s camo: She picked up scissors to remake his uniforms (retired ones, of course!) into flirty, fun pocketbooks. “I love the whole idea of keeping my soldier close and showing how proud I am of him and what he does for our country,” says Courtney, who sells her custom-made “Hero With Me” bags on, an online marketplace exclusively for handmade crafts. Courtney is just one of many military spouses and supporters on who sell items made from used and/or retired military uniforms. So if you’ve ever wanted to “wear” the uniform, here’s your chance! Check out these seven Etsy cuties.

#1. Uniformly pretty.  You can send Courtney your loved one’s old uniform — including name tape and patches —  and she’ll design a unique Hero with Me bag ($50) in your choice of fabrics and colors. Courtney stitches and sews from Fort Sill, Oklahoma, but will ship anywhere in the United States through her Etsy shop, A Silent Rank.  

This Hero with Me bag features a fashion-forward combination of turquoise and brown with camouflage; we especially love the touch of “support our troops” yellow. Use the Velcro on its front to add a unit patch.

#2. All buttoned up. At Etsy’s C&J Jewelry, an Army spouse sells handmade “I Love My Soldier” (or Airman, Marine, or Sailor) bracelets and necklaces (about $19–$29.99), which showcase buttons from military uniforms. 

The green buttons on this Air Force bracelet ($24.99) are from real military uniforms. "I get this question a lot," writes the seller on her site. "Yes, ACUs have buttons ... check your fly!"

#3. Camo for a cause. This pretty and functional Desert Camo Large Tote Bag ($42) is crafted from a tri-color desert camo pack cover. It’s the creation of Kellie Moreman, a National Guard mom who donates all proceeds from her camo bags and blankies to families of soldiers.

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