Organization Sending Therapeutic Art Kits to Afghanistan

Two Wars, Two Countries and Three Years Later, U.S. Army Major Reports That Craft Kits Remain Vital to Mission


WINCHESTER, Calif., Oct. 30, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- In Afghanistan and Iraq, international medical facilities providing critical medical care for wounded troops often take place at remote outposts.

"Our patients don't get many visitors," said U.S. Army Major Brigitte Belanger, an occupational therapist currently stationed in Sharana, Afghanistan, "so the models and other kits from HHV bring a great sense of comfort and the knowledge that people back home really care about them."

Belanger discovered the healing power of craft kits while serving on her first deployment in Iraq. "The kits helped calm the minds and nerves of battle-weary combat soldiers," Belanger reported. "Back then, the kits were given to soldiers who were experiencing combat and operational stress, many of whom hadn't been able to do anything other than work for long periods of time. Some soldiers admitted they didn't know how they would regain a sense of balance in their lives," she added.

"But I've seen eyes light up when we offer a model motorcycle, car or airplane. HHV's kits gave them a chance to forget about their current situation and focus on a task that doesn't involve being a soldier. A therapist from another unit noticed the craft kits we were utilizing, and asked me how they could get some. Eventually several clinics overseas had made contact with HHV and began receiving kits."

After serving in Iraq, Major Belanger probably didn't expect that three years later she would be serving in Afghanistan. But once again she established contact with Help Hospitalized Veterans and will soon be utilizing the therapeutic arts and craft kits again.

"Soldiers who are withdrawn begin to open up while working on their projects, and those who have developed anger issues begin to calm down again. When a project is completed we hear 'I wasn't sure I could do it!' The troops are so appreciative that folks back home care enough about them to send these kits, and some even send their finished projects home to family," said Belanger, who is anxiously awaiting the next shipment of arts & crafts kits.

"We could not be more proud of the men and women serving our country. It is our pleasure to be able to provide these therapeutic products on behalf of the generous donors across the nation," said Mike Lynch, president and CEO of Help Hospitalized Veterans (HHV).

Since 1971 HHV has provided over 27 million free kits to hospitalized veteran and military patients worldwide.

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