Texas Veteran Transforms Old Christmas Trees into Canes for Fellow Vets

Since 2016, Jamie Willis has made and delivered more than 200 canes to veterans all over the world.

Cane for Veteran
Photo: Jamie Willis/Facebook

Jamie Willis has spent the past few years repurposing donated Christmas trees into safe, sturdy, "and not just ugly" canes for veterans.

A veteran himself, eight years in the Army left Willis 100% disabled and completely unable to work. After the 50-year-old Texan deemed the flimsy cane given to him by the VA untrustworthy, he turned to Free Canes for Veterans for a more stylish walking aid.

The Florida-based organization happened to be out of canes at the time, so founder and fellow vet Oscar Morris taught Willis how to make his own.

"When I successfully sat down and made my very first cane, I asked him if I could branch it off and start Canes for Veterans in Central Texas and he said he would love for me to do that," Willis told CNN.

And that's exactly what he's been doing. Since 2016, Willis has made and delivered more than 200 canes to veterans all over the world. Each tree is the equivalent of about one cane, which takes Willis a whole day to make, package, and ship.

"I do this so I don't sit home all day feeling sorry for myself," he explained. "This is all out of kindness. I do everything out of pocket and from donations."

According to Morris, Willis is the fifth veteran he knows to start their own branch of Free Canes for Veterans.

"It would be a blessing to get the word out for more veterans to do this," Morris told CNN. "Each of these veterans were on my original list of 500 in 2015. It was the act of kindness and a piece of wood that was their inspiration."

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But it's not just about a piece of wood, or about a cane. It's about restoring dignity to America's heroes.

"One day, grab a cane and walk with it," Morris suggested. "You will feel broken because others will see you as broken. We make our canes for veterans to look 'cool' while giving honor for their service."

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