That's the message of Rob Cosman, woodworker, woodworking teacher, hand tool coach, successful YouTuber, and architect of the inspirational Purple Heart Project, which helps veterans practice the woodworking craft.
Photo by Woodcraft
Twice a year, Cosman holds two week-long hand tool training and woodworking courses in Niagara Falls, Canada. Each class is limited to twelve students, and six benches are reserved for wounded and disabled U.S. and Canadian veterans. The Purple Heart Program aims to support veterans’ mental health by introducing them to the peace and calming effects of traditional hand tool woodworking. They get to attend the course free of charge.
“We cover all of their expenses – airfare, hotel, tuition, meals – and we send them home with about $2,000 worth of quality tools to help them continue their craft at home,” Cosman said.
The estimated cost per veteran to attend the weeklong training session is $3,000, in addition to the tools. “Some vets have extra needs like a traveling companion; the donations will cover all those costs so no one is excluded.”
Cosman funds the course with donations from industry companies and individuals, as well as regular tuition fees from non-veterans. Donate here.
I am a hand tool woodwork instructor. Last year I met a wounded/disabled marine that told me hand tool woodwork gives him peace from the mental and physical pain of his injuries. I was inspired to help these vets suffering from injuries like PTSD. We organized a week-long workshop and with the help from anonymous donors, we were able to bring seven vets from around the U.S. to our rented facility in Niagara Falls, ON. It was an all-expense paid venture and the results were fantastic!
Engaging the hand and mind in a creative manner like hand tool woodwork seems to offer a distractive therapy for these folks. My evidence is all from individual accounts by vets who have already discovered the benefits and from the handful I have personally taught. Our plan is to bring six wound/disabled vets each time to a week-long workshop along with six other students. The class is run 12 hours each day, 8 to 8. We meet for breakfast at 7, break for lunch together at 1 and enjoy a super to unwind and finish the day. The Vets appreciate the common support from the other Vets and the civilian students get to put a name to a face and gain a greater appreciation for what has been sacrificed on their behalf. They become missionaries for the cause.
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