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May 3 @ 10:00 AM - May 7 @ 5:00 PM
The benefits of recreation therapy – and a whole lot of cool “Star Wars” Lego creations – will be on display starting May 3.
The Wisconsin chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America is hosting the “May the 4th Be With You” event and exhibition May 3-7 in the main lobby (lower level) of the War Memorial Center, 750 N. Lincoln Memorial Drive, Milwaukee.
Featured will be hundreds of intricate Lego models, most of them from the “Star Wars” line, that were built by Jeff Haagensen.
Haagensen, a Milwaukee-area veteran and paraplegic, turned to building the models as therapy while recovering from surgery in the Spinal Cord Injury Center at the Milwaukee VA Medical Center in 2018.
The U.S. Army veteran battled post-traumatic stress disorder after leaving the military, turning to drugs, alcohol, and eventually a failed suicide attempt in 2015.
“This kind of turned into therapy,” Jeff said of building the models. “It helps me keep my mind off my back pain and stuff like that.”
The exhibit coincides with what has come to be known as “Star Wars” Day – May 4 – as in “May the Force Be With You.”
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on May 4, local dignitaries and media are invited to tour the exhibit, meet Jeff and learn about the benefits of recreation therapy from SCI staff at the Milwaukee VA Medical Center.
“We support recreation therapy and adaptive sports to help our veterans to establish their normal life,” said Scott Griffith, government relations director for the Wisconsin PVA. “It’s really about educating the community on the things we do for our veterans to help them establish that new normal – whatever that is.”
The exhibit will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 3-7. There is no admission charge. On May 4 and 6, there will be extended hours for Scouting groups to tour the exhibit and build – and race – Lego versions of Pinewood Derby cars.