SOURCE: Help Hospitalized Veterans

September 09, 2010 17:30 ET

"Not All Wounds Are Visible" Says Helicopter Gunner

WINCHESTER, CA--(Marketwire - September 9, 2010) -  James Bertalotto of Springdale, Arkansas was the door gunner and crew chief of a Huey helicopter in Vietnam. He served two tours from 1966-1969. "When you're the crew chief and you are assigned to a helicopter, you go wherever that 'copter goes. It's like a cowboy and his horse." For Bertalotto, that helicopter took him into some life experiences that caused trauma which to this day he still has trouble overcoming. After all these years the Vietnam War still rages within him. "Not all wounds are visible," said Bertalotto. Still, he tries to cope. He says he receives excellent care at the Fayetteville VA Medical Center where he goes for therapy twice a week. It was during a therapy session that Bertalotto was first introduced to the Help Hospitalized Veterans (HHV) arts & crafts program.

Bertalotto said, "I have a wife of 40 years, two children and five grandchildren and they are the love of my life. I started working on the HHV craft kits about three years ago and really enjoy working on them. I get about three or four a year and work on them with my grandchildren. It's a special time to share with them... to listen, laugh and share a hug." Bertalotto recently worked on one of HHV's newest kits -- the Veterans Pride Desktop Flag kit. "We were all so proud of the flags in the kit that I instructed my grandkids to put it on my casket when I pass away," he added. Bertalotto says working on the craft kits takes his mind away from his troubling thoughts. "The kits bring a level of enjoyment into my life I wouldn't have otherwise, but the hugs are the best part of working on them. That's the best medicine of all."

HHV is the largest supplier of free therapeutic arts & crafts kits to VA and military hospitals worldwide. For more information on HHV products and services, please visit www.hhv.org or call 1-888-567-VETS.

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