Star Wars LEGO builds help vet with PTSD

May 4 is the unofficial Star Wars holiday, as in may the fourth be with you. One veteran says his life was saved in no small part because of Star Wars.

"But growing up, I hated LEGOs, 100%," said Jeff Haagensen. "I didn’t have the patience for it." 

But when he enlisted in the Army and was deployed five times, he came back home with PTSD.

"Honestly, LEGOs, LEGOs saved me," he said. "When I got hurt the second time, even the first time, they were both suicide attempts from my PTSD and from all my deployments overseas and everything."  

What started off as a gift from his brother turned into more than 200 Star Wars-themed LEGO builds on display at Milwaukee's War Memorial Center.

"It let his mind go to a different area, and when he came out on the other side, he was less angry, less bitter, more outgoing and it helped him with his other therapies," said Kevin Klandrud with Paralyzed Veterans of America.

The creations range from huge 4,500-piece models to small trooper armies.

"If it’s Star Wars related or the automobiles and the Batmobile, those are all mine," said Haagensen. "It’s a way to focus all your energy into something that’s completely different that’s not going to destroy you in a physical or mental realm." 

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On May 4, it was only fair to ask...

"Is May 4 with Jeff? I would say it is very strong with this one!" said Klandrud.

"The dark side forces, yes. I am a Sith all the way! I am not a Jedi," said Haagensen.

His passion will be on display at the Milwaukee War Memorial Center until May 7.


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