APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) – Woodworkers are firing up their saws and drills to make sure veterans can find purpose through woodworking.
They are doing this through a nonprofit organization called the Purple Heart Project and the Bench Brigade.
“Sometimes your mind can wander into a bad place, and I think this keeps your mind out of that place,” said Marine Corp veteran Patrick Glynn.
Glynn is referring to woodworking an activity he credits with helping to smooth out his transition from military to civilian life.
Glynn was in the military for 20 years and was deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq during his career. He said he spent time as an infantry instructor and recruiter as well and that he loved his job in the military.
He said he got into woodworking after he retired.
“As long as you have purpose and the ability to set goals and the ability to accomplish those goals it keeps your mind in the right place I think,” said Glynn about how he feels woodworking has helped him over the years.
The Purple Heart Project is an all-expense paid woodworking class in Canada for combat-wounded veterans. Under the direction of master woodworker Rob Cosman, the veterans find joy and peace through the therapy of traditional woodworking. Officials with the project said that woodworking takes an immense amount of concentration so many veterans are able to let go of other things that might be troubling them while doing this activity.
Glynn recently participated in the Purple Heart Project woodworking class.
The Purple Heart Project began in 2016. The classes consist of veterans and just regular civilians. Organizers said the idea is for the veterans to bond with others through a shared passion.
The veterans go home with several thousand dollars worth of free tools. Over 300 volunteers from across the nation also build the veterans a workbench so that they can continue to hone the skills they learned in class when they return home.
NBA legend David Robinson has been a longtime supporter of the organization as well.
One of the volunteer groups working hard on a workbench is Chris McCoy and his co-workers at Nestle. McCoy has a passion for the craft and even has his own woodworking shop in his backyard.
He said the reason he loves woodworking is that nothing stacks up to building something with your own hands.
They are actually building the workbench for Glynn who is also helping with the build. McCoy and Glynn were recently in the same Purple Heart Project woodworking class together and became friends.
“Those guys go and fight in a war and sometimes they pay the ultimate sacrifice, sometimes they come back and are in need,” said McCoy. “This is one way that we can help them.”
“For a lot of these folks this is their way of saying thanks and making a contribution back,” said Jack Lane who is the coordinator for the Bench Brigade. “And they do it very well.”
McCoy told Local Five News that they will present the finished workbench to Glynn on Friday in a private ceremony at Nestle.