What began more than four decades ago as an endeavor to help local San Diego veterans wounded in Vietnam has blossomed into a full-scale international operation.
Help Hospitalized Veterans’ (HHV), which has since moved from San Diego to Winchester, California has a primary objective – to help our nation’s sick and injured military veteran population recover from ailments both physical and emotional, through its therapeutic arts & crafts kits. Back in 1972, celebrated actor and military advocate Bob Hope helped the organization become more visible to Americans by delivering the one-millionth craft kit to Vietnam veteran Eugene Gardner. This year, HHV surpassed the deliverance of 28 million kits worldwide.
The kits, such as models, wood items, leather projects, painting kits and many others have helped ease the minds of those suffering from memories of the battlefield, and even distract them during uncomfortable medical procedures, easing their pain. For those suffering partial paralysis or hand and arm injuries, working on craft kits has helped patients regain fine motor skills.
And veterans with traumatic brain injuries have reported that working on the kits helped them improve their concentration abilities.
HHV craft kits also provide a sense of purpose to veterans in substance abuse programs; veterans who have in many cases lost all sense of self-worth after spending years of “self medicating” anxieties and stress away. Developing a creative activity has, in many cases, become an effective method for patients to keep their minds occupied while also helping them develop healthy alternatives for dealing with stressors that can lead back to the cycle of addiction.
Additionally, HHV employs dozens of Craft Care Specialists (CCS) who are stationed nationally at various locations to serve veterans and military patients. The CCS distributes arts and crafts kits locally and helps veterans choose kits that are suited to their recovery or rehabilitation needs. Thousands of veterans have furthered and in some cases discovered an artistic ability through HHV’s arts and crafts products and services.
Today, HHV continues to serve military and veteran patients in many ways, which now includes additional programs and sponsorships designed to make a positive difference in the lives of hospitalized and disabled veterans, becoming something far greater than its founders ever imagined.