WINCHESTER, CA--(Marketwire - March 11, 2011) - Many young men and women serving in our military today are of an age where they have always had computers, cell phones and a host of other high-tech gadgets at their disposal. And that variety of choices is what Melody Guptill, Craft Care Specialist at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, thought she'd be up against in her distribution of arts & crafts to sick and wounded soldiers.

"They have so many choices for entertainment it's amazing to see them try a therapeutic craft kit instead," said Guptill, who works for Help Hospitalized Veterans (HHV) the largest supplier of free arts & crafts to VA and military hospitals worldwide. "Once a patient tries a kit, the challenge becomes keeping up with the demand for more."

Guptill is perfectly suited for her work at Brooke. She's young, tough and focused on her mission just like the soldiers she serves. "The thing that I am most amazed about is the patients' overall attitude. Many are young and severely injured but I've never seen even one of them down on things. Instead they search for the best prosthetics, treatment or rehabilitation available. I remember one soldier who was badly burned. He had a prosthetic device on one arm and was concerned about improving his fine motor skills. He'd previously enjoyed building computers and was concerned that he wouldn't be able to do that anymore. I suggested to him that working on arts & crafts could help him. He started with a die cast model kit and as his dexterity and motor skills improved so much he moved on to more difficult kits," said Guptill. "He recently completed the highly challenging USS Enterprise model," she added.

Lt. Colonel Steven M. Gerardi, MS, MSS, and chief of occupational therapy stated that he often uses crafts as therapeutic media. "Craft kits can play a significant role in an effective occupational therapy program and are very useful in the rehabilitation of sick and wounded warriors," said Gerardi. "By engaging in crafts, the patients are able to produce concrete evidence of their abilities, in spite of any perceived disabilities. While a service member's illness or injury may cause temporary setbacks, engaging in the arts as part of an occupational therapy program proves to them that they can still be productive and do things that have purpose and meaning," Gerardi added.

Since 1971, Help Hospitalized Veterans has donated over 28 million therapeutic arts & crafts. For more information on HHV's products and services visit or call 1-888-567-VETS.

Documents and/or Photos available for this release:


To view supporting documents and/or photos, go to and enter Release ID: 289471