Although Stephen “Stretch” Armstrong enjoys spending his free time cruising the streets of Bell County on his motorcycle, he also knows the therapeutic power of arts and crafts.
On Wednesday, Armstrong, a Killeen resident who served in the U.S. military for more than a decade, took part in Help Heal Veterans in Temple — an organization that has maintained its decades-long belief that arts and crafts are a “time-tested healing”. tool” for post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety.
“I’m with the Strays MC, a veterans motorcycle club, and whenever Help Heal Veterans have events we try to come out and show our support,” he said. “I’ve been supporting this place for about four or five years now…and it’s a safe little space for us to take our mind off things.”
As Memorial Day approaches, Armstrong and
other participants had the opportunity to create a customizable wooden candle holder containing a two-by-two inch photograph to honor and commemorate fallen soldiers.
“I don’t have enough photos or the time to build enough… so there are quite a few people this is going to be for. We are not greedy,” Armstrong, 34, said.
He emphasized what a privilege it is to have a Help Heal Veterans site in Bell County.
“There are only two stores like this in the United States and we have one,” he said. “Unfortunately not many people know about it, so there is a lot of contact through Facebook and other social media sites to reach people.
However, Armstrong understands that word of mouth can only go so far.
“I would say at least come check it out, because you never know what they have that can help you or what they have that can help others until you actually come here,” he said. declared. “And it’s free. It’s not a cost at all. All you have to do is get here. What’s the worst that can happen?
Each year, nearly one million kits are produced and shipped from Help Heal Veterans headquarters in Winchester, California to community arts and crafts centers nationwide.
“We are committed to putting our therapeutic craft kits in the hands of our veteran community,” Trish Alger, craft case specialist at Help Heal Veterans in Temple, previously told the Telegram. “We offer every veteran the opportunity to take home five craft kits each day when they walk into our facility at 819 S. Fifth St., Temple. Our craft maintenance specialists can help you complete crafts, painting, embellishments, and more.
The Temple facility, which is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, has nearly 200 different kits available — materials that can be delivered through a courier program.
“My dad is a Vietnam vet who lives in East Texas, so he’s on the mailing list,” Armstrong said. “Once he finishes his kits, he contacts the organization here or the distributor he has near him and receives more kits.”