Help Hospitalized Veterans (HHV) was founded in April 1971, about a year after a group of concerned San Diegans visited with several Marines who had been wounded in Vietnam while they were recuperating at the Balboa Naval Hospital. The Marines were asked, “How can we help you?” The answers varied from “Give me something to do with my hands,” to “the seemingly endless hours of recuperation are often harder to take than combat.”

Clearly, time seemed to weigh very heavily on them.

After numerous surveys and discussions with hospital clinicians and patients alike, the first arts & crafts kits were delivered. As soon as HHV staff saw all the smiling faces, they realized the kits had a tremendous therapeutic value. In some cases that value turned out to be a physical one—stringing together a leather kit could help hand-to-eye coordination and dexterity, while painting kits eased minds deeply scarred with memories of the battlefield. All that remained was whether or not the American people would be supportive of the program. And supportive they were. Today HHV’s donors are the lifeblood of the program.

Because of such generosity, HHV has become the largest supplier of all arts and crafts kits utilized in VA and military hospitals. The kits are available—free of charge—to all VA and military facilities that care for our hospitalized veterans and active-duty military. These arts and crafts kits include leather crafts, suncatchers, paint-by-numbers, latch-hook rugs, poster art, plastic and wood models/crafts, and many more. Additionally HHV provides a variety of different products and services to homebound veterans, and cash support to many of VA’s annual Special Events—the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival, National Veterans Golden Age Games, Valentines for Veterans concerts and more.

Bob Hope and Eugene Gardner

Bob Hope presenting Vietnam veteran Eugene Gardner with HHV's one-millionth kit in 1975.

HHV neither seeks nor receives government funding. HHV is a service member of the Department of Veterans Affairs Voluntary Service (VAVS) as it provides Craft Care Specialists to VA and military hospitals nationwide.

Click here for a free copy of our 2012 video “Medicine that Doesn’t Come in a Bottle” featuring Lee Greenwood.