Arts & Crafts Give Military Veteran a Way to Express His Feelings

"The craft kits let me show my family that I love them"

Jan 15, 2013, 17:51 ET from Help Hospitalized Veterans

WINCHESTER, Calif., Jan. 15, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Few people understand the type of stress that an air traffic controller endures, as the ability to focus on dozens of planes at a time can be both exhilarating and exhausting.


"Knowing those blips on the screen represented hundreds of lives made a tough job even tougher," said Scott Long, a U.S. Army veteran.  "But after awhile, I was no longer able to look at it from that perspective," he added.

According to Long, being an air traffic controller is not for the timid.  "You have to be sure of yourself," he said.  But after serving for six intense years, Long finally admitted he needed help.

"For awhile, I didn't realize that I was hurting," Long said.  But the stressfulness of the job had taken its toll on Long.  "You deny that you feel something is wrong," said Long.  "And when you deny something like that for long enough, it has a way of coming back and biting you."

By the time Long sought professional help, he had developed severe anxiety disorders.  He also had to endure back surgery which increased his pain, adding depression to the mix.

"The first time I was hospitalized, I was filled with negative thoughts and had a very low opinion of myself," said Long.  "It was a very bad time in my life."  Things began to turn around, though, when Long was introduced to an arts & crafts program sponsored by national nonprofit organization Help Hospitalized Veterans (HHV).

"HHV's kits were a lifesaver for me.  When I'd string together a leather kit or paint a sun-catcher, I'd find myself able to focus all my energy into that task.  Doing HHV crafts also gave me a way to show my family I love them, because there was a time when I was unable to say the words," Long said.  "But working on kits together with my kids has helped me repair some of the damage I did before I got help," he added.  "HHV crafts have made such a positive difference in my life.  I'm so grateful to the donors who make this program possible."

Frank Cimorelli    

SOURCE Help Hospitalized Veterans