Some U.S. fight veterans face a difficult actuality once they transition to life again dwelling, as is evidenced by the consequences of submit-traumatic stress dysfunction (PTSD) and alarming suicide charges. While I haven’t served within the navy, I typically have contemplated these challenges and questioned what I may do to assist.

I’m a hobbyist woodworker and woodturner with an energetic social media presence and a YouTube channel (all underneath the identify “ToolMetrix”), and I felt that one thing optimistic may certainly be completed for veterans by my platform.

Veteran woodworker showing off turned mallet
Showing off her turned walnut mallet is Christine, a 2020 VetsTurn participant.

When I reached out to the woodturning and veteran communities for steerage, I met a number of veterans who credit score woodturning as a vital a part of readjusting to civilian life. For occasion, Burle Christopherson, a retired Army Ranger, defined to me that “turning is the only activity I’ve found that can consistently get my mind to a peaceful place. I literally cannot stay stressed and turn wood at the same time.”

Program Goal, Benefits Through conversations with different veterans who felt the identical manner, I used to be impressed to start out the “VetsTurn” program two years in the past. The objective of VetsTurn is to advertise woodturning as a manner to assist fight veterans scale back the detrimental results of PTSD.

Veteran turning bowl on a lathe
Turning a bowl on his midi lathe is Patrick, one in every of final 12 months’s 5 VetsTurn members.

This veteran-targeted non-revenue Project 147 helps establish fight veteran recipients. Each chosen veteran receives a full woodturning setup that features a new midi lathe, an assortment of instruments, wooden, different provides and coaching supplies.

The woodturning group has additionally stepped as much as assist VetsTurn in significant methods. I’ve been thrilled to obtain sponsorships from a number of properly-recognized corporations, together with Easy Wood Tools, Teknatool (NOVA) and Rockler Woodworking and Hardware. Through social media publicity, a number of different distributors and people present assist as properly. They have supplied mentorship, provides and cash to assist improve this system.

Veteran showing off turned bowl project
Omar, a 2019 VetsTurn recipient (left), works with volunteer woodturning mentor James Carter.

When I launched VetsTurn in 2019, three veterans obtained woodturning awards. Feedback from them was overwhelmingly optimistic. “Woodturning has proven to be a great art form to help me relax and clear my thoughts,” says Omar Gonzalez, a 2019 VetsTurn recipient. “When I’m peeling beautiful ribbons of wood, I feel a deep sense of peace, calmness and satisfaction.”

Now a Shared Platform

Veteran showing projects he turned on his lathe
Gordon, a 2020 VetsTurn recipient, reveals the bowl he turned from thermally modified ash.

Through elevated group assist, VetsTurn welcomed 5 new recipients final 12 months. As I had hoped, VetsTurn is shifting from being “my” program to a shared platform that permits members of the woodturning group — whether or not that be a vendor or particular person — to increase assist to veterans in no matter kind they select. I proceed to function VetsTurn coordinator, promoter and teacher, whereas members of the group are supporting this system in different methods:

  • The proprietor of a Chicago-based retail retailer coordinated a big fundraising occasion to sponsor a VetsTurn recipient in 2021. It will enable this system to serve yet another veteran.
  • A woodworking firm sponsored the price of a further recipient final 12 months.
  • Several suppliers have donated some stunning turning inventory and mission kits.
  • Nationally, some woodturning golf equipment have supplied free memberships and in-particular person assist to recipients.
  • Knowledgeable woodturner drove 5 hours spherical-journey and donated two days of personal instruction to a 2019 recipient. The private outreach was significant, and the outcomes of this coaching have been excellent.

Training and Support

Veteran posing near his Laguna lathe
VetsTurn’s mission is to assist recovering fight veterans reminiscent of David, a 2019 participant, discover peace and therapeutic by a woodturning passion.

Training and ongoing assist are key to serving to the recipients rapidly and safely acquire the abilities wanted for a wide range of tasks. Well-known influencer/woodturners George Vondriska and Ashley Harwood have donated a set of in-depth coaching movies. Last 12 months, to offer personalised coaching within the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we started to supply free on-line coaching periods to cowl fundamental abilities.

During these periods, group members may additionally carry gadgets that they’d turned for “show and tell,” and loads of time was allotted for questions and solutions. The recipients have expressed a robust curiosity in persevering with these on-line periods, and I consider will probably be an vital aspect of this system going ahead.

Getting Involved

Laguna midi lathe and turning tools and accessories
Each veteran receives a whole woodturning starter setup that features a midi lathe, turning instruments, chuck, face protect, wooden and different provides.

When I hear the optimistic tales that consequence from VetsTurn and see the attractive items our turners are creating, I’m humbled and impressed. I hope to proceed to develop VetsTurn to serve much more vets sooner or later. To comply with the progress of VetsTurn and see the work produced by our program’s recipients to this point, subscribe/comply with ToolMetrix on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook. If you have an interest in serving to with this program or offering a donation, be happy to succeed in out to me at

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