One moment he was working in his yard, the next he was lying on the ground, trying to stay alive. Just moments earlier, David Gilmore was on top of a six-foot retaining wall when suddenly everything went black.
“As I struggled to remain conscious, I realized there was a metal rod sticking out of my neck. Impulsively I tugged it out, but unfortunately it had hit an artery and I was bleeding badly. Even though my wife, who is a registered nurse, immediately began work on me I was ultimately airlifted to a hospital where I nearly lost my life.”
It was during Gilmore’s recovery that his wife began noticing a change in him. “She sensed that I was unhappy and asked if I would like to do something other than work in ship repair until retirement,” said Gilmore. “I thought, ‘this could be a second chance for me to begin doing something meaningful with my life.’”
Gilmore was unable to find any jobs in his field of training, so he volunteered at his local VA hospital. The volunteering ultimately led to the offer of a paid position as a Craft Care Specialist (CCS). The CCS job entails working with arts & crafts and veterans. It was a perfect fit. “Working with our nation’s veterans is a pleasure,” Gilmore said. “The veterans gain so much from working on the kits. For veterans suffering from depression, completing a craft kit can give them a sense of accomplishment and instill self-esteem. For those patients in addiction recovery, working on the craft kits can provide that diversion necessary to keep their minds off their triggers. For veterans with spinal cord injuries (SCI), the therapeutic benefit of working on the kits is immense, as retaining and rebuilding muscle mass is something stressed very much in the SCI unit,” added Gilmore.
“Additionally, veteran patients often spend a lot of time in wheelchairs or hospital beds, so it’s important to utilize a variety of creative recreation tools, such as Help Hospitalized Veterans (HHV) craft kits, to keep their minds and bodies occupied. Working on craft kits improves the patients’ manual dexterity and fine motor skills. I recall a patient who was paraplegic and developed a painful bed sore. Part of his treatment was to routinely rotate his body in order to keep pressure off the wound. It was during this process that he told me, ‘this would have been unbearable without having the arts & crafts kits to work on.’ It was remarkable to watch him persevere and see his health improve,” beamed Gilmore.
“I am reminded each day how precious life is, and have discovered that the simple act of helping a hospitalized veteran put together an arts & crafts kit can offer him or her hope and healing. It truly is medicine that comes in a box.”
HHV is the nation’s largest provider of free therapeutic arts & crafts kits to VA and military hospitals worldwide. Including David Gilmore, HHV employs 58 CCS’s stationed at VA medical centers and military hospitals across the nation. For more information on HHV products, sponsorships or giving, please visit www.hhv.org or call (888) 567-VETS.