CAÑON CITY — U.S. Navy veteran, Clifford Carter, has already served his country.
Today, he still serves his community.
“I teach in the prison system. I also teach in the community, meditation. And I also work with the prison system to make meditation cushions,” Carter said.
Now, he’s making something new to help others during the coronavirus pandemic: free face masks through his nonprofit, Inner Warrior Spirit, which he created four years ago to help cope with his struggles with PTSD.
“I put a box in my front yard, started putting masks in the front yard. So, I put five, 10, 15 masks in the box. People started stopping by picking up masks in the box. I posted on Facebook and I started getting calls, then I started sending masks from colorado to North Carolina, West Virginia, California,” Carter said.
Carter says so far, he and his team have made more than 700 face masks, which can be found at the st. Thomas Moore Hospital gift shop, and the Kaleidoscope Inspiration.
Carter says making these masks gives him new purpose.
“When I was in the navy on a submarine with a group of guys. That was something that was bigger than me. And since then in my life, I haven’t had anything that was larger than me with some kind of purpose. This mask, although it seems really small, and people coming by, picking one by one this mask out of the box, it seems so minimal,” Carter said.
Carter’s commitment to service is not uncommon among veterans.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars says that group gives back to their communities as a whole, more than civilians.
The VFW says veterans volunteer 25-percent more of their time and are 30-percent more likely to participate in local organizations than civilians.
But it’s not a numbers game to Carter.
“That mask to me became so much bigger than me. It became some kind of meaning, some kind of purpose in my life that gave me something that I could hold onto,” Carter said.