Living 50 Plus - June 2020


C4 JUNE 2020



Helping Veterans and Active Duty Military Cope With Social Isolation (StatePoint) As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of veterans and active duty military per- sonnel are on lockdown, many suffering from traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), post-traumatic free craft kits since the beginning of the pandem- ic and creating a newly designed kit to help veter- ans make the masks they need to stay healthy and safe. skills, cognitive function- ing, memory and dexter- ity, and can help allevi- ate feelings of anger and the severity of negative behaviors triggered by PTSD and TBIs. little contact from others, (no visitors, no family al- lowed, no volunteers and limited staff interaction), it is particularly import- ant to address suicide prevention, according to McClain. own life. We are hoping to raise awareness and im- prove access to craft ther- apy kits to help mitigate that risk.”

sis can be terrifying and deeply debilitating,” says Joe McClain, retired Navy captain and Help Heal Veterans CEO. “Our goal is to give our veterans what they need to heal during this time of en- forced isolation.” In a recent survey of vets, 94 percent of those polled who use Heal Vets craft kits said the kits helped them have a more posi- tive outlook on life, and 98 percent said the kits took their mind off prob- lems. With many of the nation’s veterans labeled high-risk now in lockdown with

To learn more about Heal Vets and the organiza- tion’s COVID-19 efforts, as well as find out how you can help, visit Heal- Anxiety, depression and other mental health chal- lenges can be exacerbated during this quarantine period. Luckily, there are tangible ways to support isolated and sick veterans in their most significant time of need.

stress disorder (PTSD) or substance abuse. With the additional challenge of social isolation, finding ways to combat depres- sion, anxiety and loneli- ness is critical. That is why Help Heal Veterans (Heal Vets), a nonprofit founded during the Vietnam War, has gone into overdrive, ship- ping more than 90,000

With demands flooding in due to the COVID-19 pandemic, kits have been distributed to more than 90 Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers around the country and a large number of military bases, state veteran homes and other locations where the need is great. “The coronavirus is over- whelming, but being alone in a pandemic cri-

Operating on the prin- ciple that not all medi- cine comes in a bottle, Heal Vets distributes kits in craft categories like masks, leatherwork, models, woodwork, jew- elry, paint-by-numbers, needlecrafts, poster art, scrapbooks and more. Crafting can provide therapeutic and rehabili- tative benefits, including improving fine motor

“We’re working closely with the VA Suicide Pro- gram to start including VA-produced suicide pre- vention awareness and education material with our kits,” he says. “Our concern is that during this time of increased stress from isolation and financial uncertainty, some veterans may be at higher risk of taking their

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