Hands Healing Heroes veteran appreciation event returns on Sept. 23

Sep. 9—NIAGARA FALLS — Kristen Jacobsen runs a chiropractor practice that is able to provide for her family. Giving back to military veterans, however, is her proudest accomplishment.

This year marks 10 years that the organization Hands Healing Heroes has held its Veteran's Appreciation event, where all manner of veterans can come and have their lives made just a little easier.

It will take place from noon to 4 p.m. Sept. 23 at Niagara Falls High School. It is free for all veterans with a general public admission of $15.

"It's a genuine way of saying thank you without having a reason or cause," Jacobsen said.

The organization's founder and president, Jacobsen started the event off by offering complimentary chiropractic care at her practice, Jacobsen Chiropractic, to any veteran injured or wounded in combat. When her other patients heard about it, they wanted to help out too.

The event first started in 2014 at the John Duke Senior Center but soon outgrew its capacity. It moved to the high school in 2019, with the 2020 version during the COVID-19 pandemic taking the form of a drive-in BBQ in Hyde Park.

Free haircuts from Gentlemens Club Barber Shop in North Tonawanda and massages will be given, along with music, food and a basket raffle with prizes donated from local businesses. Other veteran organizations will be present to show what they offer. Last year featured the high school's choir and Boy Scout Troop 855 serving the vets food and helping escort any around.

"It's a combined effort with people in the community," Jacobsen said. "It's amazing. We have a generous giving community."

Attendance at past events has been around 300 people, with Jacobsen hoping they get 400 this year. Between 25 and 30 volunteers help out, made up of seven Hands Healing Heroes board members and the rest from the community.

At the third iteration in 2016, Jacobsen had a Vietnam veteran tell his story of being spat on and called horrible names when he returned from the war, later stopping saying he served in it. That year's event was the first time he felt appreciated for his service.

"If he was the only person affected, it was all worth it," Jacobsen said. "Its about recognizing all the great things we have in our country we take for granted."

Hands Healing Heroes also does a Christmastime event where goodie bags with home care items are delivered to veterans in hospitals and nursing homes.