WASHINGTON (WDVM) — There are 19 million United States Veterans, according to the Department of Veteran Affairs. After serving the country, many servicemen and women come back with both internal and external wounds.
For 50 years, Help Heal Veterans has worked to be there for veterans by providing free therapeutic craft kits. Over the years, Joe McClain, the Chief Executive Officer, has found that “the issues come up over a lifetime.” The kits provided by his organization are robust, and can be catered to what each veteran is going through.
These crafts can help with creativity, fine motor skills for those dealing with traumatic brain injuries, having a sense of accomplishment for those dealing with depression and also gives them an end product that they can be proud of.
McClain explained, “These are designed from the ground up to be helpful with whatever they are facing, whether it’s a TBI, PTSD… It’s an adjunct therapy to support the healing process.”
Through the COVID-19 pandemic, the requests for kits tripled for the organization. As thousands of veterans are now home from the war in Afghanistan, McClain expects the demand to continue.
He said, “Just because the war is over, a lot of the repair and making our folks whole after they serve their time in conflict is still going.”
McClain has been in a position to need help himself. As a retired Navy Captain, he said his wife is the perosn who pushed him to see a doctor. For any loved ones wondering about recognizing when their family member needs help, McClain said those who know the veteran will be able to tell that something is off.
He said, “When you have someone in your community, circle, family, I think just encouraging them and being there for them, encouraging them to reach out and get help. It’s critical.”
The veterans might need that extra push from those who love them.
“Vets and active duty military tend to ask for help for anybody but themselves. If they see another veteran in crisis, they will be there to get help, encourage them to get help,” he said.
While many try to suppress what they are dealing with or even turn to other methods to self-medicate, delaying proper healthcare can make it worse in the long run.
“That’s why it is important for our folks coming home from Afghanistan to see out the help, because they are not going to go away. These things can alter your life drastically, but there is help out there,” McClain added.
Help Heal Veterans is celebrating 50 years this year. To share more about the impact of the organization, they have launched a campaign called 50-50-50, where veterans from each of the 50 states will share their personal stories of how the craft kits helped them to overcome their struggles. To learn more about Help Heal Veterans or to request a kit for yourself or a loved one, click here.