LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – It is something a lot of us have thought about - what can we do for our deployed military men and women when they are so far from home? Although it has only been in operation for six months, the goal of HeartsApart.org is simple – make sure every man and woman deployed overseas has a bounty full of memories and mementos from home.
There is a group, an army you could call them, of local folks coming together especially for our service personnel and their families. They are giving a gift to keep our soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen as close to their families as they can be while so far away.
"A picture to me means you have a little piece of that person with you no matter where they are," said Tara Bucci.
A picture is worth more than a thousand words especially when you are a thousand miles apart. Bucci and her fiance, Specialist Kurtis Neels will be separated by distance when he leaves for his tour to Iraq but thanks to HeartsApart.org. they will have many pictures.
"It's kind of mixed emotions cause this is amazing but then later today he's leaving," Bucci explains with a smile as she was preparing for her photos.
Thanks to HeartsApart.org, Specialist Neels will get a special waterproof, durable bi-folded card filled with photos to take overseas with him. The card will withstand the roughest possible treatment and conditions.
"It means a lot because I know any touch from home means a lot to him while he's gone," said Bucci. "It's a little bit of comfort."
"Seeing her is going to help me a lot," Neels said. "Everyday it's gonna help me. It's gonna help me deal with a lot of the issues. It's not going to be easy. I do what I have to do."
Although the job will be hard and long, the mementos from home will help ease the pain. For Neels, this is his second tour of duty. He knows what all it will take and he is ready but today's mission took a little more nerve.
"I was nervous. Their kind. Their kind and they're good at joking around to break through that nervousness," Neels said.
Photographer Will Paro of Veritas Photography stepped up to volunteer his services and become part of the project because this hits close to home for him.
"My father was deployed in the first Gulf War," said Paro, "so I know that when he was gone all I had was photos."
Pictures, hair and makeup were all provided for free. Although this is a gift to our military, there is a price we pay for freedom. Our servicemen and women pay it every day.
"They're fighting for the country. This is the least we can do," said Will Paro as he watches Neels and Bucci get ready for their next photograph.
For this soldier and his soon to be wife, this day will be captured forever.
HeartsApart.org needs funds, local hairdressers, makeup artist, and photographers. For more information on HeartsApart.org, click here.