How Therapeutic Crafts are Helping Veterans

How Therapeutic Crafts are Helping Veterans

"I served over in Vietnam for two tours. I will never forget the day we landed in Vietnam."

"Veterans Day is an extraordinary day. I meet with comrades and veterans. We share the day together, grieving, laughing and remembering those lost lives and souls. It's a very important day for me." Says Wayne Knight an Army veteran, who served in Vietnam.

Knight, formerly from Michigan served in the army from 1966-1968.

"I served over in Vietnam for two tours. I will never forget the day we landed in Vietnam. We took a commercial flight that came under attack as we were landing; our enemy was shooting at the plane and blowing up the runway. We had no guns no ammunition we were not prepared. We eventually got some backup, and the assault was stopped. I am sure that wouldn't happen today, so some things have improved for veterans in some ways."

Despite fighting for his country and facing several medical issues overseas including losing his hearing and seeing the horror of war Knight says returning home was a sad time.

"When I returned to U.S. soil I didn't receive any help- in fact when we landed we were many were spat at and somehow made to feel like the war was our fault. We were told to take our uniforms off before returning home --it wasn't my fault though I was serving my country. I knew there was a college fund available to me but it's wasn't until about five years ago that I found out there were other benefits I could claim." Knight adds.

"About two years ago I started coming to the Help Heal Veterans (HHV) arts & crafts clinic in Bay Pines, Florida. I like the camaraderie here --all the staff is very kind. They all go the extra mile- I am so impressed with the kindness of HHV and the concern they have for veterans. There is an unspoken rule of love when I am around them."

HHV provides therapeutic craft kits to veterans across the nation. The clinic at Bay Pines like others across the U.S. is free to veterans.

"The HHV community center in Bay Pines was established as a way to help veterans at the local level. Since we were founded in 1971, HHV has delivered over 32 million craft kits nationwide and overseas. Our kits, designed with clinician input, help heal both the visible and invisible wounds of war. They improve fine motor skills, cognitive functioning, manage stress and help veterans cope with symptoms of PTSD and TBI." Says Joe McClain CEO of HHV.

"I lost my hearing after a severe concussion when an ammo truck was blown up- I can hear a little but it never really came back entirely. I get help for my hearing at the Veterans Association (VA) here in Florida, but it limits what I can do to relax and relieve stress. That's why the craft kits are so enjoyable to me. I enjoy putting together and painting the model cars and also the wood projects. These cars remind me of ones I owned many years ago.

The crafts are very hands-on, and I like the fact that I can use the flexibility of my hands to keep myself limber. Working with the crafts has given me a feeling of self-worth a sense of creating something which I never thought I could do- it's an art I am developing – giving me insight into myself to do things that I never thought I was able to do. I recommend it only because it brings you closer to yourself and learning what you are capable of.

"Even if you are not a crafty person you can still get a sense of fulfillment. There is an awful lot of internal anxiety that comes about after war, and I feel like these craft kits help to take away my anxiety and the stress – if other people try this they will realize it is an added benefit to their health. "

McClain adds, "We couldn't exist without the generosity and support of our donors, some of whom have been partners for over 20 years. The need has never been greater; currently, almost a quarter of requests for support from goes unfilled or delayed due to lack of funds. With a 5 to 1 impact return for every donor dollar, supporting our veterans and military through HHV is a great investment."

"I don't know how to thank people who donate to HHV but it is important because there is so much relief in being able to do something with your hands. It's a gift from other; it's so rewarding. HHV has been a life-blood for me I meet with other veterans the staff is always welcoming they all go above and beyond. This place has been a real eye-opener for me."

Original article from


CFC GuideStar Great Non-Profits 2018 Veterans Employer of the Year