God’s Little Warriors

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In a world filled with difficulties and hardships, there are a select few in the community who have truly dedicated themselves to bringing light to even the most tragic situations– and Bernadette Dugas, founder and creator of local ministry God’s Little Warriors, is undoubtedly one of those people.

Through Gods Little Warriors, Houma-native Bernadette Dugas has dedicated her time, personal funds, and energy towards helping U.S. military families stationed all over the world cope with infant loss. The local seamstress receives donated military uniforms from American soldiers, both retired and deceased, and sews bereavement gowns for those lost in childbirth to be buried in. The gowns are then donated to hospitals all around the world, often at the personal expense of Bernadette, for staff to give to parents grieving a recently lost child.

Bernadette has been sewing since she was in the 4th grade, and has been working as a seamstress her whole life. She opened Mermaid’s Masquerade, a specialty costume shop in Houma in 2008, but still did not feel as if she had truly found her calling in the world.


“I was in church for a service, and our pastor said that God has given us all a gift– and it is our job to find what our gift is and use it for good. That message really resonated with me,” explained Bernadette. “I was anxious to find what my gift was. I saw on Facebook that someone was making bereavement gowns for children who passed, in utero or stillbirth, and donating them to local hospitals. I knew I wanted to do something similar, and began working with typical fabric I had around my house and donating the gowns to local hospitals. I received good feedback when I posted them online and decided to keep going.”

After a positive response from the community over her bereavement gowns, Bernadette began receiving donated wedding dresses to use– making her creations even more intimate and beautiful– but she still felt like something was missing.

“I was making tons of bereavement gowns out of these wedding dresses, when one day a very old and dear friend contacted me and asked if I could find a way to make a bereavement gown out of her husband’s U.S. Navy uniform, to be donated to a Navy family who lost their child,” said Bernadette. “This request touched my heart so deeply and really sparked an interest in me. I made four or five gowns out of this one jacket, posted them to Facebook, and it just absolutely caught on fire. That’s when I knew– this is my gift. This is what I’m supposed to be doing.”


From there, Bernadette threw herself head-first into creating bereavement gowns out of donated military uniforms for grieving military families. The local seamstress now receives donated uniforms from members of the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard, completely takes them apart, and then remakes them into four different sizes of gowns, from premature on down. Bernadette also sews what she calls “cocoons,” designed for children so small they can fit in the palm of a hand. Uniforms are donated from a variety of different kinds of veterans, including active duty, retired, and families of the deceased. Bernadette also has very rare historic uniforms, dating back as far as the Vietnam War or World War II.

Bernadette explained how unique her practice is, particularly as she is serving the U.S. military population stationed all over the world. “As far as I know, I am one of, if not the only person making these bereavement gowns out of military uniforms,” said Bernadette. “I had to start by cold-calling military hospitals across the country and overseas, explaining what I do, and asking if I can donate these gowns to them. Many of them were interested and told me they had never heard of anything like this before. Lots of hospitals had beautiful bereavement gowns, but not any made out of military uniforms.”

Bernadette has donated over 1,200 gowns to 45 military hospitals, including ones in Italy, Japan, Guam, Spain, and over 15 different states. Bernadette sends bereavement gowns representing different branches to each hospital in a variety of sizes, so they are always available when needed. Despite this large, international outreach, God’s Little Warriors remains a one-woman operation– and entirely dependent on community donations.


“It is a lot of work making all these gowns by myself, but I feel so incredibly honored to do it,” said Bernadette. “I am so blessed to be able to contribute in this way. Losing a child is such an impossibly difficult thing to go through, and I hope that these gowns give the families some modicum of comfort– knowing someone cared enough to do this, so their child can be buried in a military uniform.”

Bernadette’s incredibly hard work creating all these gowns is not in vain, however. While her gowns made ofw edding dresses were beautiful, she explained that these military bereavement gowns go one step further in uniting the military community. “Whenever someone donates a uniform to me, I ask them to include the name of the soldier, their rank, title, years served, retired/deceased/serving– as much information as they possibly can provide. I then sew that information onto a little tag that is sent with the bereavement gown to the hospital,” said Bernadette. “That way, the family who gets the gown knows exactly whose uniform their baby is wrapped in. I want to honor those soldiers who gave up their uniforms as much as I am honoring the families who need them. It creates a really incredible connection.”

This connection has touched many of those familiar with God’s Little Warriors, and Bernadette has heard stories from the hospitals she has donated to. “Sometimes I hear from nurses who tell me they witness the families not only praying for their lost child, but for the soldier who donated the uniform at the same time,” said Bernadette. “Which is really special to hear.”


As for the future of God’s Little Warriors, Bernadette plans to continue making these important bereavement gowns and donating them to as many hospitals as possible. Since this ministry runs entirely on donations, the local seamstress asks that anyone who has a military uniform from any branch consider donating to a good cause so she can continue serving families in need. Other ways to donate to the ministry can be found on their Facebook page, “God’s Little Warriors.”

As we honor those who serve this country, so too must we honor those behind the scenes, bringing comfort to military families in grief. Bernadette’s dedication not only serves as a beacon of hope, but as she continues her mission with God’s Little Warriors, her selfless acts of compassion will continue to remind the community of the power of service.