Air Force veteran hopes to turn hobby into form of therapy for returning vets

Published 8:11 am Saturday, May 30, 2015

Star Photo/Abby Morris-Frye  Joe Gordon is hoping to start a model club for veterans receiving treatment at the VA Medical Center at Mountain Home.

Star Photo/Abby Morris-Frye
Joe Gordon is hoping to start a model club for veterans receiving treatment at the VA Medical Center at Mountain Home.

One local man is hoping to turn his hobby into a way to help returning veterans recover in therapy while showing them they are not alone.
Joe Gordon, a retired fireman from Elizabethton, has always had a love for working with models. Sometimes he buys magazines about the hobby to learn new tricks or see the latest designs. In one of the magazines he saw an article that inspired him — a man was asking for help in starting a model club for veterans.
The article spoke to Gordon, an Air Force veteran, and he decided to try to implement a similar program here in the Tri-Cities.
“I feel like the Lord was just leading me to do something,” Gordon said.
When trying to decide the best place for such a club, Gordon said he was torn in his decision for a location to get started. Then, his friend Joe Penza suggested the domiciliary at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Johnson City. Veterans who are receiving treatments and therapies sometimes reside in the domiciliary at the VA and this seemed like the perfect place for Gordon.
His next step in turning the club from a dream into a reality was working with the VA.
“So far they are 100 percent behind it and I think it’s a good thing,” Gordon said. “The guys were so receptive.”
But, as is often the case, funding for the program became an issue.
“They can’t solicit funds and the budgets are so tight,” Gordon said. The VA sometimes gets models in the recreation room for the veterans, but those are few and far between.
However, Gordon was not going to let the idea die. He signed up as a volunteer at the VA which will allow him to do programs with the veterans.
The club is now “unofficially official,” he joked, adding there are still a few more things which must be done, one of which is getting donations to buy the models.
For that, he is looking for help from the community. Gordon received his first donation from the First Christian Church of Elizabethton’s Men’s Club, which he used to purchase three models.
Those interested in donating can give either model kits or cash. Because the program is for veterans, Gordon said he prefers any donated model kits be military type vehicles such as ships, tanks or aircraft.
While the club will focus on the models, Gordon said he hopes to turn it into a chance to minister to the veterans and possibly even start a Bible study with them.
“I’m just going to leave it in God’s hands and let him take care of it,” Gordon said.
Those interested in making donations can drop them off or send them to the UPS Store, 106 Broad St., Suite 3, Box 185, Elizabethton, TN 37643 and mark them to the attention of Joe Gordon.
Those interested in learning more about the program or volunteering with the club can contact Gordon at 423-557-1335 or by e-mail at

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox