Tyrone-based Herobox expands mission to help veterans

Wounded veterans at the Shepherd rehabilitation center in Atlanta opened customized Heroboxes full of comfort items that also provide a mental boost for them. Photo/Special.

Herobox in Tyrone is adapting its mission to coincide with the drawdown of deployed troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Herobox is turning its eyes to wounded veterans in what is called the “Renewing Heroes” program. A second new program, designed to help aging veterans, is called “Creative Heroes.”

The concept is similar to the original mission of Herobox: to provide specialized care packages for troops overseas that provide snacks, specialty items and mostly a message that someone cares about them, said Herobox founder Ryan Housley.

“All these still fall under our mission of providing physical and moral support our heroes need while away from home,” Housley said.

The Renewing Heroes program has been working with wounded veterans being treated at the Shepherd Center rehabilitation hospital in Atlanta, and Herobox wants the program to expand to facilities across the country.

“The morale of our heroes during therapy is vital to their success, and their mental well-being fuels their self esteem and desire to keep moving forward,” Housley said. While just receiving a box of miscellaneous items might seem minuscule to most people, it can mean a lot to that recovering soldier, because it shows that someone cares, and can help brighten their day, Housley said.

Herobox has already made deliveries to injured soldiers recovering at Shepherd and Housley said it’s hard not to get emotional when they are thanked for “bringing a box of miscellaneous items.”

“It just means the world to you when they recognize that support,” Housley said.

In addition to dealing with those who have physical wounds, Herobox is also working to help troops who have returned home with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

“My brother suffered from it. He was a sniper with the 25th I.D.,” Housley said. “When he came back, he wasn’t the same as when he left. It was completely different. They try and make the transition into a normal working daily ilife and its hard, and sometimes it can’t be done.”

The Creative Heroes program for aging veterans is designed to help veterans in VA living facilities and community centers. Creative Heroes provides art supplies such as paintbooks, sketchbooks and craft kits to help provide a therapy outlet for them that promotes an active environment and helps with cognitive and motor skills along with verbal and non-verbal skills as well, Housley said.

Herobox has initially partnered with the Charlie Norwood VA facility in Augusta to kick off the Creative Heroes program.

“They are in desperate need of craft kits and different therapeutic supplies, as funding for them has dried up,” Housley said.

The new Herobox programs will need revenue, and Herobox is already working on specialized grants to help fill the gap. Anyone with information on helping obtain such grants may contact Herobox at 1-866-999-4376 or email info@herobox.org.

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