Freedom, the definition according to the English Oxford Dictionary is as follows:
“The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants.”
It’s a word that features strongly in my advocacy for epilepsy and a word I chose to incorporate in the name of my blog because of its representation. I fight every day to achieve freedom from my condition and to try and create a quality of life for myself.
But what happens when you selflessly choose to use your freedom in order to create freedom for others and to defend your country?
In Colorado Springs, a business called HandmadeByHeroes.com answers just that. Not only does it answer that question but it also determines what can be achieved after that sacrifice has been made.
I was honored to be contacted by Joe Barela, one of the many war veterans who has returned from deployment abroad and who now works for HandmadeByHeroes.com. He is one of twenty-six members working in the therapeutic environment which assists ex-service men and women to reintegrate into employment and their home life.
War generates a diverse amount of long lasting effects; coming home after being in the military renders significant change. Ex-military can arrive home broken and scarred, mentally and physically. Additionally, in daily life there are the conditions to contend with including PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) and PTE (Post Traumatic Epilepsy) which is a seizure disorder caused by TBI.
Employment can be challenging to maintain, but it is one of the aspects of life that once home is full of hopeful opportunity. Soldiers return to their families and with the necessity to provide for them or themselves, HandmadeByHeroes.com is the perfect place to start. It’s a work space where healing can occur; work colleagues are people who have been through similar experiences and can relate to one another; but perhaps most importantly, it is a support network.
Their mission statement is as follows:
The goal of HandmadebyHeroes.com is to employ US Veterans who have given so much for our Nation. But apart from providing employment, we also aim to give the Veterans working for us the opportunity to learn new skills and trades which can help them transition from the Military into the Civilian workforce, where they can find new jobs with their newly learned skills.
They receive full training which offers innovative skills that can potentially be used in future job roles. Each employee is paid per individual piece, this allows flexibility to work the hours to suit their circumstances. The position offers veterans the chance to expand in different areas and to be creative. Many, if they wish, have a hand in designs for new and upcoming products as well as the general running of the company.
The products for sale on the website are made from military grade 550 and 450 paracord. It is a flexible and durable material, hence their lifetime warranty.
As I began writing and researching for this piece, I figured there must be plenty of other military related materials that could be used, why paracord in particular? Perusing their blog (https://handmadebyheroes.com/blogs/features) which has an abundance of very interesting information about the military that I didn’t know, I got my answer. When the bracelets are in their basic form, they can be used as a survival tool. There are some super videos to watch that demonstrate all the unusual and wonderful ways you could use your cord if it became necessary.
Their diverse stock includes medical ID bracelets, bracelets representing different sports and their teams, key chains, lanyards, dog collars, watches and water bottle holders. They are fully licensed by the NFL, MLB, CLC/CLPA, NHL and NBA (through Aminco) so you can purchase your favorite sports team – my Green Bay Packers bracelet is on its way!
Medical ID bracelets are their main line of merchandise; when talking to Joe, he informed me that the epilepsy bracelets fly off the shelves – and yes, I have one of those wending its way too! The bracelets cover conditions such as diabetes, PTSD, essential tremor, asthma, epilepsy, autism, a plethora of allergies or you can customize your own engraved bracelet.
One of the of the personal touches that I found to be heart-warming was the biography of each veteran that works for HandmadeByHeroes.com. Once you purchase an item you will be informed which veteran has made it for you. By going to the creator’s bio, you not only receive a snap shot of the journey which has brought them to the present, but you can also say thank you.
HandmadebyHeroes.com is a beautifully personal endeavor, which not only impacts each working veteran positively, but for those who buy from their site as well.
Visit their website to learn more.