Wounded warriors take solace in simple pleasures

Spc. Todd Goodman, Story and photo
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center

***image1***When a man makes a purse and a leather pouch to hold a pedicure kit, he may receive some strange looks from his fellow Soldiers. But it’s all in fun … and the purse isn’t even his.

It was just another day at the Medical Transition Company’s Crafts Room on Kleber Kaserne, Bldg. 3210. The office, which is a branch-off of the Help Hospitalized Veterans Arts and Crafts Program at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, relies on volunteers to make it work.

Spc. Duran Agustin, National Guardsman with the 725th Transportation Unit in N.C. who was injured downrange, put together so many model cars and other manly things that he went in a different direction.

“I made the purse for my niece,” he said with a grin. “It’s fun doing things like this. I just want to thank all of the volunteers for making this possible.”

Volunteer Paul Stevens and his wife, Ruth, are regulars who try to help out there at least once per week.

“I enjoy doing this,” said Mr. Stevens, an Air Force retiree. “It’s nice to help injured servicemembers. Some come in and work on a craft and some just walk in, have a free soda and start talking. We talk about the states, their families, what they’ll do when they get back. I think coming here really helps their spirits.”

“When you have a lot of time here, you need something to keep yourself occupied,” said Specialist Agustin. “I’ve been here since Aug. 4, so this craft program has been a big help for me.”

The program needs volunteers to make it successful, said Carmen Saavedra, craft care specialist, who only has a handful of people giving their time.

“Ideally, I would like to open the craft room every day from at least 5 to 9 p.m. and on the weekends from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.,” said Mrs. Saavedra. “If I had 10 regular volunteers who came every week, it would be nice.”

Would-be volunteers may find Mrs. Saavedra every Monday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the crafts room. It’s important to come during these times so she can give people a briefing on how the program works, she said.

Supporters can also donate materials in person or donate money through the Web site www.hhv.org. Scissors, rulers, screwdrivers and tiny paint brushes are needed.