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Woodworking Used As Therapy For US Veterans

Updated on December 3, 2016

Woodworking Tools

What it is?

It’s no secret how the suicide rate of US veterans has been alarmingly increasing every year. In fact, the Department of Veteran Affairs has estimated around 22 veteran suicides happen every day. Even though this is an estimation that has been disputed with regards to its accuracy, the overall picture still points to what seemingly is a national problem that’s been ignored and not fully acted upon by the government and the citizens themselves.

For the most part, the main reason for these suicides point to the veterans’ inability to adapt to their normal lives after having been in active combat. Such post-traumatic stress disorders should be taken seriously and given proper assistance and counseling. But of course, it’s one thing if the veterans themselves don’t reach out and ask for help.

It’s a good thing that there are some kind souls out there who take it upon themselves to seek out these troubled individuals and actively help them cope in very therapeutic, albeit unconventional, ways. Perfect example is Ken Aucremanne, who is a veteran himself and has served 6 years in the US Navy. He personally understood what it’s like to deal with the aftermath of it all and his main concern was to actively find a channel in which he can help veterans who are suffering from depression, unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness, and so much worse.

Ken's Idea

Ken’s chosen channel to help out veterans is through woodworking. He has started VetWoodWorks, a charitable non-profit organization that could provide various woodworking programs for veterans. And recently, he’s in the process of looking for ways to fund his project in order to carry out these beneficial programs throughout the contract and connect with volunteers and sponsors alike.

It all started out when he went on a road trip throughout the country with the aim of producing a documentary showing how woodworking can serve as a therapeutic activity for veterans. He perfectly understands how fulfilling it can be to build something that’s functional and aesthetically pleasing with your own hands. And of course, there’s also the fact that focusing on a project like that can help divert one’s focus from negative thoughts and provide relief for stress.

Ken's Experience

He has travel far and wide and has connected with veterans who have served in wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Some of them have never even held a Miter saw in their lives, but some have long been familiar with woodworking as well. But what unites them all is their belief in the healing and therapeutic nature of this craft. And in fact in an unrelated instance, there was a veteran featured in some local news who considers woodworking his “saving grace” for the life he now lives after coming back from serving in Afghanistan.

Are you interested?

For those who are interested in being a part of Ken’s project, or perhaps even starting your own related woodworking project aimed towards being a recreational and therapeutic activity for veterans, you don’t have to worry about not having any previous experience in woodworking or for not having any kind of necessary tools.

You can opt to purchase basic used tools for around $200-$500 and already have a complete set of it. If you really want to be more serious about it and invest in woodworking projects, then you can shell out some money for reliable tools and equipment such as a Miter saw or even a cabinet table saw. A part of being a smart woodworker is knowing what tools and equipment you’d benefit from. And you can start exploring your options by knowing what types of projects you may be interested in starting out with—it could be house furniture, art pieces, game or play things, and so on.

One last Thing

True enough, woodworking may seem to be a bit too much of a hobby to start or try out with. But indeed, it’s something worth exploring, particularly for those who are looking to really invest their time, mindset, and effort in. Not only does it prove to be very beneficial for vets because of how they can feel accomplished and fulfilled at the end of each project, but it’s also more of the process getting there and how it can bring together a community of veterans and people who care about them under a common goal.

Blind Veteran Wood Turner


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