Denise's professional background is in the performing arts and has worked in the field of dance and theatre as a teacher, dancer, author and choreographer. In 1992 she founded Ohio Dance Theatre, a professional ballet based contemporary dance company serving as the company's Artistic Director for twenty five years. In 2014, motivated by her daughter Megan's experience as the spouse of a veteran with PTSD and TBI, (traumatic brain injury) Denise began working on a new project intended to bring attention to the ongoing struggles faced by families whose veterans suffer from invisible wounds of war. The result was an original multi-media theatrical performance piece entitled Blood Stripe, a Spouse's Story which premiered at Cleveland Public Theatre in the spring of 2015. In 2017 Hearts of Patriots was founded so that others would not have to endure similar struggles alone.
"Only after extensive research and finally connecting with other veterans' families did Megan begin to understand that her husband's PTSD and TBI were responsible for the changes in their relationship. Their life has hope only because Megan was able to learn the important role she plays in helping her family live with PTSD and TBI. We have created Hearts Of Patriots so that other military families don’t spend months or years before realizing how the invisible wounds of PTSD and TBI are slowly destroying them." — Denise Weller
A mother of three and the wife of a 3/25 Marine, Megan has 20 years' experience in nonprofit management and development with a concentration on the strategic and financial aspects of operating a nonprofit organization. As the co-founder of Hearts of Patriots, she advocates for veterans and their families, ensuring that spouses of veterans who suffer form invisible wounds are not alone throughout their difficult journey as caregivers.
While many valuable organizations are fighting for our Veterans, very few focus exclusively on their caregivers. They are the ones who work tirelessly to keep their families together. As a caregiver myself, I understand that we are the glue that keeps our family intact and many times, we are the only thing keeping our husbands and fathers from becoming one of the 22 veterans a day that commit suicide. "After my husband returned from Iraq with PTSD and TBI, I spent a decade confused and alone, not clearly understanding the impact war had on our family. During that time I felt completely isolated and alone and often wondered if I had the strength to go on. I never want another spouse to feel so isolated. Unless we are strong, emotionally healthy and well educated, we as caregivers are unable to continue on our journey." — Megan Cain