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Harley dealerships donate boxes to help veterans let in a bit of light

New Hampshire Union Leader

December 26. 2012 9:55PM
Laconia Harley-Davidson General Manager Ross Houston, center, and associate Judi Dunlap, right, present light boxes and wall hangings to New Hampshire Veterans Home Commandant Barry Conway. (COURTESY)

TILTON - The new year will be a little brighter for veterans at the New Hampshire Veterans Home thanks to the donation of 13 medical-grade light boxes from Laconia Harley-Davidson.

Also known as light therapy boxes, the devices are used to combat seasonal affective disorder (SAD) - a form of depression that usually occurs during fall and winter.

The devices, which look like large computer screens, bathe patients in light to help them overcome the psychological and physical effects of the long New England winter.

"Winter months can affect the veteran's health, mood and behavior because the quality and quantity of sunlight is lessened during this time period," said Barry Conway, commandant of the home.

"Seasonal Affective Disorder, winter depression or sleep disorders are a direct consequence of this."

Conway said the $3,500 worth of light boxes will help keep the home's residents' internal clocks in sync, "enabling them to stay alert and awake in the day, but ready to sleep at night."

The funds were collected throughout the month of November at the Laconia and White Mountain Harley-Davidson dealerships, and online, to commemorate Veterans Day and to support the state's only veterans home, located in Tilton.

Officials at the veterans home were asked to identify a donation that would have an immediate and direct impact on the residents' quality of life, and they suggested the light boxes.

The motorcycle dealership tripled the donations from customers to raise enough money for the purchase.

According to the Mayo Clinic, light therapy boxes can be used on their own or combined with another seasonal affective disorder treatments, such as an antidepressants or psychological counseling (psychotherapy).

Conway said the home is under a federal mandate to try non-pharmacological treatments first when dealing with the behavioral health needs of long-term residents.

"This gift could not be more appropriate or timely," he said.

Prior to the donation, the home had only one light box. In addition to the light boxes, the dealership brought dozens of custom wall-hangings adorned with inspirational messages written on Harley-Davidson bandanas.

"We are pleased to make this donation, which will literally lift the spirits of those living in the veterans home," said Anne Deli, owner of Laconia Harley-Davidson.

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Dave Solomon may be reached at

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