News

"If Not Us, Then Who?"

"If Not Us, Then Who?"

The Story Of Help Heal Veterans Volunteer Larry Keen Fighting The Statistic Of PTSD By Spreading The Word Of Therapeutic Craft Kits

One day seven years ago while waiting for an appointment at the Veterans Affairs office disabled desert storm soldier, Larry Keen, saw a man walk out with a model craft that grabbed Keen’s attention. Curiously, Keen asked the man where he got the model from, and the man said the Help Heal Veterans craft shop. “Craft shop, what the heck is a craft shop?” Keen responded.

And the rest is history.

After months of hanging out at the craft shop between appointments Keen became like family. He met Richard Burke, who was the driving force behind getting Keen to be the face of Help Heal Veterans that he is today.

When asked what attracted Keen to the seven dedicated years of volunteering work he says, “I want to help vets.” Simple as that. When Keen was in the service he did not get the help he needed because he didn’t realize that he needed it. Many veterans have the same issue, they don’t understand that they are suffering from any mental ailments like PTSD until someone else points it out.

Keen descends from a long line of veterans- his grandfather, father, uncle, and son all serve or have served in the military. No strangers to the effects of PTSD Keen knows how successful the craft kits are for treatment. Keen says, “When today’s veterans return from the Middle East they do not want to tell their stories, and repeat what they did, or have seen. Unless you have been there you will never understand.” He explains, “You have to let these stories come out organically, it is not something that can be forced. This is where the craft kits come in- when you sit idle, alone with downtime after transitioning to civilian life your thoughts run wild.” Keen wants to step in and help as many vets as possible. He says, “THIS is how I help vets, I can connect them to people, I can connect them to hobbies”

On the weekends Keen pedals from event to event with his father spreading awareness of Help Heal Veterans organization. “Community outreach is huge, this is the bread and butter! And if it’s not my dad and I, our motto is- ‘if it’s not us then who?” He relies on word of mouth to spread the awareness of the quality of HHV, “we want you to be involved, because if you construct a craft kit and your buddies come over and see your displayed work, they are going to ask about it.” These are the key conversations HHV helps to spark. Keen’s mission is to reach the unreachable. He wants to fight the statistic of PTSD related suicide. “I want veterans to live a regular life.”

The craft kits are for people of any age, for those Keen signed up to receive the kits he says, “I receive endless kudos from these guys.” Keen tells the story of a grandfather that says he cannot wait for his grandchildren to visit so he can sit and do crafts with them. “You contribute to a family dynamic, you create memories” this engages the grandfather to share his stories of his service, it keeps history alive.

When tabling events Keen preaches the importance of seeing your donations return. Help Heal Veterans, “is a quality organization” he says, an organization that thanks veterans for their service by giving them craft kits, without expecting anything in return. When you fill out a donor card you see the correlation to the amount of money to the craft that you funded. What is special is that you will then receive a personal handwritten thank you from the person that received your funded craft kit. Your donation goes beyond the monetary value, you are a silent partner in healing individuals, and that, is priceless.

People are drawn to HHV because of Keen’s passion for it. A car dealership that Keen went to buy a car from listened to his story, his volunteer work, HHV, and the benefits of the craft kits. Inspired by Keen, the dealership decided to sponsor Keen’s gas for travel to and from events and have continued to sponsor him for the past 3 years. Keen said, “This is my life’s calling. I have found my passion and purpose.”

Back

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