SOURCE: Help Hospitalized Veterans

Help Hospitalized Veterans

October 30, 2013 15:51 ET

Veteran Says Her Pain Is No Match for Arts and Crafts

WINCHESTER, CA--(Marketwired - Oct 30, 2013) - Kim McAlavy from Clovis, New Mexico served in the US Army from 1984 to 1987. She enjoyed the military life. She enjoyed figure skating. A tragic skating accident left McAlavy with significant back injuries requiring multiple surgeries. An accomplished competitive skater, she suddenly found herself separated from the military and unable to compete.

She returned home and found herself in constant pain, but refused the medications offered. "That wasn't for me," said McAlavy. "I wanted to remain active, so I worked hard to stay as fit as possible until I could no longer continue."

"Being in constant pain can cause a person to retreat into an emotionally dark place," McAlavy explained. "It's easy to get depressed because the pain is always there. You may think that on a scale of one to ten, pain in the mid-range would be manageable, and it can be. But the frequent spikes to higher pain levels became very discouraging."

About eight years ago, McAlavy moved to Florida and began receiving healthcare at the Bay Pines VA Medical Center. There she met Kathy Vanasse, an employee of nonprofit organization Help Hospitalized Veterans (HHV). HHV provides free therapeutic arts and crafts kits to veterans receiving health care. Vanasse was distributing the kits, and offered one to McAlavy.

"Almost immediately I noticed that while working on a craft, my pain decreased," McAlavy said. "So I started doing more kits, and as of now I've completed over 100," she beamed. "Working on the craft kits made me feel good about myself, especially using and displaying the finished product."

After years of struggling through increasing back problems, trips to the doctor, acupuncture, physical therapy and pain injections, McAlavy discovered a new Community Based Crafts center (CBC), also provided by HHV.

The CBC is located near the Bay Pines VA Medical Center, making it convenient for McAlavy to stop in and work on crafts between appointments. "The camaraderie of the other veterans at the CBC is a godsend. They understand what you're going through," said McAlavy. "HHV provides a great place to spend time connecting with other veterans. I'm also very grateful to the donors who make these CBCs and craft kits possible. The value of their donations is exponential; the positive impact on veterans receiving these kits is priceless."

McAlavy is now giving back the care and support received from fellow veterans -- she is now a member of the American Legion Honor Guard serving at veterans' funerals and other veteran-related events.

In addition to Community Based Crafts centers, HHV offers home delivery of arts and crafts as part of the Patient Home Rehabilitation (PHR) program. For more information visit HHV.org or call 888-567-VETS.

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