Army Veteran Uses Crochet to Deal With PTSD, Inspired By Grandmother’s Love for The Craft

by Keeli Parkey

Like many others who have served in the armed forces, United States Army veteran Josh Apel struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety. Luckily for him – and others – Apel found a way to cope and heal through crocheting.

Earlier this month, he talked about why he started crocheting and how it has helped him with on “The Kelly Clarkson Show.”

“Josh served in the U.S. Army for 15 years,” The wear and tear from three tours of duty took a real toll and he struggled adjusting to life back home,” Clarkson said. “Then, he found a way to heal right at his fingertips in the form of crocheting. Inspired by his grandmama, Josh started creating colorful blankets, scarves, and potholders as a positive therapeutic outlet.”

Clarkson first asked the veteran how crocheting has helped him.

“So, when I got out of the Army I was having a hard time with my PTSD and anxiety. And, I wasn’t making good life choices,” Apel said. “So, I was looking for something to help me relax and calm myself. And, I remembered watching my grandma crochet as a kid and how relaxed she always was when she did it. So, I thought I would give it a try. I’ve always loved arts and crafts. So, I went to the craft store, bought some supplies, found some tutorials, and it just kind of snowballed from there.”

Army Veteran Tells Kely Clarkson That Crocheting is ‘Therapeutic’

Through crocheting, veteran Josh Apel found something he said is “therapeutic” and “healing.”

“And, what I found was crochet was actually quite therapeutic. It was almost like a form of meditation and when I’m working on projects I’m completely focused on the projects,” Apel said. “Everything else is blocked out. Nothing else really matters. And, it was quite healing for me. So, I got really excited about it.”

His excitement led this veteran to begin sharing his work on social media.

“Started posting pictures and videos online to share with my friends and family,” Apel also said. “And then, I started doing live streams and teaching people how to crochet and how to use crochet to deal with their PTSD and anxiety and here we are now.”

Josh Apel Said It’s ‘Amazing’ to See How Crocheting Has Helped Others

Josh Apel also said that other veterans who have started crocheting have also found it to be helped, even though some of them were hesitant to try it at first.

“They love it. The hardest part was convincing these big, tough soldier types to try something completely out of the ordinary. But, I actually convinced a few of them to try it out and they started getting the same results as I was,” Apel also said. “And they got excited about it … These were guys that were just a few months before talking about suicide and how they were having such a hard time. So, to see them go from one of the lowest points in their life to where they are now is quite amazing.”

You can watch Josh Apel talk about Combat Crochet with Kelly Clarkson below. The veteran has started a crocheting group for veterans called, Combat Crochet. You can find out more about it on his Instagram or on his YouTube channel.