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Veteran Heals, Reconnects With Family Through Craft Therapy

Veteran Heals, Reconnects With Family Through Craft Therapy

While serving as a crewman for the U.S. Army in Germany, Simon Jackson suffered a devastating injury in a vehicle crash that crushed his spine and confined him to a wheelchair. Following the crash, Simon endured three surgeries and months of rehab. He was left paralyzed for life and dependent on narcotic drug therapy as a means to cope with his injuries. He returned home hopeless, despondent and detached.   

During the long road to recovery, Simon was introduced to craft therapy and immediately felt the benefits it could provide. By engaging in craft therapy, he was able to take his mind off his physical pain and focus his energy on positive tasks and quality time spent with family. The kits offered Simon and his loved ones much needed relief on some of his hardest days. His four children also enjoy the kits, keeping them as treasured reminders and mementos of time spent working with dad. Simon began requesting monthly kits to help him cope with his injuries, and quickly learned of the benefits and support Help Heal Veterans provides.

The craft kits can take minutes, hours, and even days, but no matter the length of the task, Simon looks forward to receiving them each month. He compares the kits with the excitement of a Christmas morning, joyfully opening the box, eager to see what his next project will be. The pride Simon feels after completing each kit is evident as he displays them around the house, often making extra kits to share with his kids, wife and other veterans. 

While Simon can’t be as physically active as he likes, the kits allow him to bond with his children in an engaging way while teaching them to take pride in their work. Simon alters the kits at times to teach his children how to think outside of the box, a task he very much enjoys.

Simon’s wife, Cassie, has seen firsthand the improvements in his mood and a renewed sense of motivation to follow through with every project he starts. Craft therapy helps Simon become more involved in life, more patient and healthier, successfully lowering his blood pressure thanks to the calming nature of these projects. His mind is active and focused during craft activities, which helps combat fatigue, allowing him to mentally take a step back and decompress from the day’s challenges. 

One of the projects Simon is most proud of was constructing a pen kit for his daughter who loves to write, designing her a customized pen to fit her hand perfectly. While the pens are a quick kit to complete, they provide Simon the self-esteem and confidence to engage veterans in his community. He often hands them out and encourages others to partake in craft therapy, excitedly boasting of the benefits they provide for veterans. 

His passion for craft projects has spilled over into his everyday life, whether it’s making home improvement plans or dreaming up new ways to connect with his family, Simon always has another project on the horizon.

His youngest child, who was diagnosed with ADHD and autism, often finds comfort in the fact that though he may struggle with day-to-day activities, so does his dad, and they are able to take on life’s challenges together. The kits have taught both Simon and his son to stay focused by working with their hands and always looking ahead. Cassie noted that craft therapy has given her husband a major self-esteem boost, as it provides him the tools to pass down vital lessons to his children. The kits have also enabled Simon and his stepson to bond in ways they might not been able to otherwise, something Cassie is very grateful for. 

The craft kit program has not only improved Simon’s morale, but it also helped him mentally, emotionally and physically move forward in life. The kits serve as a reminder for Simon to always take pride in himself and his work. He wears a leather bracelet that he wove from a kit to remind him there is always something to look forward to and always another project around the corner.

 

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