Operation Hot Glass Heroes

In September of 2007, a week before my daughter’s second birthday, I left my wife and 2 kids to deploy to Iraq.  I was scheduled to be deployed for 15 months.  This started one of the most difficult and challenging times in my life.  I saw many things in Iraq that I never expected to see and needless to say, it wasn’t easy coming home.  The initial relief at no longer being in a combat zone was nice, but it’s difficult to stop the automatic reactions and super-vigilance all soldiers experience when returning from war.  Plus the memories of what you saw are always close to the surface.  I, like many of my brothers and sister in arms, suffer from PTSD.  It’s been 9 years since I returned home from the war zone and my struggle is still difficult everyday. 

In the Fall of 2016, my counselor at the local Vet Center invited me to participate in the first glass blowing glass for veterans offered by Joel & Logan Ryser of Hot Glass in Davenport, IA.  In that first class, 6 veterans (including myself) were given free glass blowing training at no charge.  For 3 weeks, we met twice a week for a couple of hours and every one of us would walk away with a glass blown art piece.  We were able to make paperweights, glass flowers, vases, cups, bowls and glass pumpkins.  We learned that glass blowing is a team activity and great therapy for veterans who are used to the team camaraderie of a combat unit.  By sculpting and molding the hot glass, your daily troubles slip away and you are able to produce something beautiful and creative, while helping the rest of your battle buddies do the same. 

Once the classes were over, Joel always invited us “trained” vets to come back and help blow glass at any time.  This helped us keep up the camaraderie and stress relief each of us had found by attending those classes.  In addition, we were able to help other veterans in the future classes discover this art form.

In July, my family and I moved to Orlando, FL.  As I have been here for a few months, I have met several veterans and can see that a similar program here in Florida would be a huge benefit.  I also want to open up the classes to Fire, Police and EMS professionals who deal with similar stressful situations on a regular basis.  So I have started a non-profit organization called Operation Hot Glass Heroes.  I am in the process of raising money to buy the equipment and supplies so that I can hold classes at no charge to our veterans and Fire/Police/EMS professionals.  These individuals have given so much to us and I want to be able to offer another solution to help them handle the stress that they have had to endure to keep us safe.  I will continue to update this page with progress and pictures as we get this organization running.  Check back to see our progress.

Thank you so much for your support!


  • Lek Technology 
    • $2,000 
    • 41 mos
  • Scott Matin  
    • $30 
    • 44 mos
  • Henry Halem 
    • $25 
    • 44 mos
  • Lauren Bocken 
    • $25 
    • 46 mos
  • Melinda Grau 
    • $100 
    • 46 mos


Mark Van Osdel 
Winter Garden, FL
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