Winchester, CA – As a Boy Scout and because of his unwavering love of country, Alan Henderson frequented the gravesites of veterans, placing small American flags at the headstones. Even at the age of ten, Henderson knew what it meant to honor the memory of those who paid the ultimate price for his freedom. So it came as no surprise to Henderson’s family, many whom had served in our nation’s military, when he chose to work with hospitalized veterans.
While pursuing a degree in social work, Henderson volunteered at the VA medical center in Mountain Home, Tennessee. Learning of a job opening involving arts & crafts and having always had an interest in art as therapy, Henderson applied for the job. Getting it changed his life. “I learn so much working with hospitalized veterans,” he says. “They’ve made me a better person.”
Although Henderson assists all veterans, working with older veterans is special for him. “They need a little more assistance which allows me to really get to know them. That’s the best part – interacting with different veterans. I’ve heard amazing stories of courage and historic moments in our nation’s history.” Henderson has also seen some amazing finished kits from veterans who once had an interest in art and for whatever reason walked away from it. “Some veterans need a little persuasion at first, if they’re accustomed to feeling defeated by life. It can be hard for them to overcome negative feelings. But the more they work on the kits, the more confident they become,” said Henderson. “For some, working on the kits reawakens something locked deep within. Putting their feelings on a canvas allows them to let it go. One veteran said, “I have to paint what I am feeling, it is the only way that I can leave it behind.’”