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PSSST! Meet the UWS Cornerstone Heroes

PSSST! Meet the UWS Cornerstone Heroes

We are happy to announce the new name for the UWS Family Support Program: the UWS Cornerstone Heroes! The name encompasses everything for Family Support, everything that falls under that umbrella of Family Support.

UWS Cornerstone Heroes are the Driving Force. The mission of the program, much like the UWS mission, is to inspire veteran and military spouses, families, and caregivers and to provide resources, opportunities, and events that will offer healing so that they may thrive.

The participants of the program, veteran and military spouses and caregivers, came up with the name, during one of the previous Operation Support Our Warrior Spouses (OSOWS) events. The event took place at Conestee Park in Greenville, SC, and the theme was emotional intelligence. It was while looking out over the lake, before the self-care activity, that the event and program participants, guest speaker, and UWS Family Support Coordinator and Advocate Virginia R. Barnes discussed and came up with the name.

From left to right, guest of the event, guest speaker, second guest of the event, Teresa M., Melinda G., and LIsa G.

The participants of the program, or the cornerstone heroes, the veteran and military spouses and caregivers, are much like the pioneers of the world: Rosa Parks. Harriet Tubman. Amelia Earhart. At some point, they were behind the curtain.

“I knew someone had to take the first step,” Rosa Parks said. “And I made up my mind not to move.”

They took a stance to no longer be hidden and stepped out from behind the curtain. They refused to continue to live by society’s definition of gender roles and injustices.

“Real change, enduring change,” Ruth G. said. “Happens one step at a time.”

During another previous UWS Family Support event, where the participants, veteran and military spouses and caregivers, went to the movies to see Harriet Tubman, they convened in the lobby of the cinema on Woodruff Road and talked about the influential woman, whom they look up to. They chose women like Mother Theresa, Harriet Tubman, Amelia Earhart, and Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

Virginia, the UWS Family Support Coordinator and Advocate, said she is inspired by Harriet Tubman, Amelia Earhart, and many other pioneers around the world. She said her inspiration is based on these women’s ability to survive with tenacity, resilience, and courage as well as their ability to be independent.

“This is who I am.” Virginia said. “I am here to lead by example, inspire with optimism, heal by providing resources, opportunities, and events so that veteran or military spouses, families, and caregivers can thrive, having my own life-changing experiences as a guidepost for which I help them inspire, heal, and thrive.”

She has been through her own, life-changing challenges. Through allowing strangers and living angels into her life, they led, inspired, and helped her to heal and thrive once again. Now, she says it is time to do the same for someone else.

“It is said that you know you are healing when you are able to help someone else,” Virginia said. “They are the driving force at the homefront, but I am the driving force [for them]. I am going to inspire them, help them heal, and lead them to thrive.”

Gloria Steinem said, “The final stage of healing is using what’s happened to you to heal other people.”

Survivor. Resilience. Strength. Courage. Substance. The front line at home. These are words that mean a great deal to Virginia, especially when it comes to the UWS Cornerstone Heroes Program.

“I’m real, holistic, and raw. I’m not a Monday through Friday, 9-5 person – just as a family is not 9-5. I invite you to reach out to me when you need me on my cell, 631-506-9669, or email, I have an open door policy. I see you not only as veteran and military spouses, family members, and caregivers, but as individuals as well,” Virginia said.

Virginia continued, “I know how to survive difficult and life-changing events. I’ve not taken the same path, but my journey has included difficult intrusions, where I had to make the choice to become a victim or a survivor. I recognize that each experience is unique, and that each one can lead to the same outcome. It is my vision to make this program what each of you, veteran or military spouses, families, or caregivers aspire it to be. This is about you, and it is my promise to you to do my best to honor your wishes and to support you in any way I can.”

She wants them to realize their own individualism and strength, and she wants them to understand self-growth and self-care is as important as it is to help their veteran or active duty member. It can be easy to forget about ourselves when we are busy caring for others. The UWS Cornerstone Heroes Program will always offer the bond equivalent of the military brotherhood and sisterhood.

“I wish everyone a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday,” Virginia said. “From my heart to yours, I thank you for your support and participation in Cornerstone Heroes. Without you, the program would not exist.”

In addition, Virginia wants to thank Mie P., Lisa G., Teresa M., and Melinda G. for their support, encouragement, and willingness to come up with the new name. She could not do what she does without participants, veteran and military spouses and caregivers, like them! They are truly cornerstone heroes.

According to Merriam-Webster, cornerstone is a noun that means a basic element or foundation. This means that caregivers and spouses could, would, be the cornerstone of their families, their veteran or military member. This is people like June Carter Cash, who is an Air Force veteran spouse; Krista Wells, who is a Marine Corps veteran spouse; Stephanie Brown, who is a Navy SEAL veteran spouse; Mary Nelson, who is a Coast Guard veteran spouse. They, people like them, veteran and military spouses and caregivers, are the cornerstone of this UWS program, Cornerstone Heroes.

The UWS Cornerstone Heroes Program, formerly the UWS Family Support Program, is a service under the Upstate Warrior Solution Program Areas of Operation. These services are diverse and designed to improve the overall quality of life for warrior families. We accomplish this through proactive engagement and one-on-one case coordination for a variety of concerns, including Healthcare and Benefits Coordination, Education and Employment Support, Housing Support, Quality of Life Support (I.E., recreational and social events), and Cornerstone Heroes, formerly Family Support.

Upstate Warrior Solution recognizes the veteran is not the only family member who may be impacted by the time spent in service, the readjustment period after service, or the often-unexpected challenges. Our Cornerstone Heroes Program was established in 2014 with the purpose of building a support system for veterans’ families. This program is focused on providing special events, ones which allow spouses to connect with other military and veteran spouses and families.

Great things are happening for UWS Cornerstone Heroes in 2020. Virginia welcomes and encourages each veteran or military spouse or caregiver to share any ideas, suggestions, or comments. The program will be what each person makes of it. If you are interested in joining the UWS Cornerstone Heroes in the Tri-County, Greenville, or Spartanburg areas or are interested in hosting a one-time or monthly event or becoming a guest speaker on a specialized topic, please reach out to Virginia at 631-506-9669 or Thank you!