Woodcraft Magazine intern using his degree to help veterans.

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(Ken interviewing Marc Spagnuolo)

Woodworking as therapy for veterans –a journey begins
By Ken Aucremanne

I just completed a 9,000-mile, 28-day road trip around the country, but my journey is just beginning. The goal is to produce a documentary film on woodworking as a therapeutic activity for veterans who are recovering from the scars of war. If you’re already a woodworker, you know the sense of pride that stems from building something with your own hands. You have experienced the stress relief that can result from some time spent in the workshop. It wasn’t a stretch for me to connect woodworking with recovery from battle trauma, since I’m a woodworker and a vet.  I’m also studying for a degree in communications at the American University in Washington, DC.

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(Larry White table instruction on drum sander)

My travels to collect video for this documentary have put me in touch with veterans who have served in Vietnam, both Iraq wars, and Afghanistan. Their stories are almost as varied as the scars they brought home, but they all shared a common belief in the healing nature of this craft. Some have worked wood for decades, and some had never picked up a chisel before we met.
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(Just a quick shot of some vets woodworking projects)

Highlights of my trip included a 3-day workshop for veterans at the Sam and Alfreda Maloof Foundation in Rancho Cucamonga, CA.  during an annual workshop for Veterans. This annual event includes a special tour of Maloof’s home and workshop, as well as hands-on time completing basic woodworking operations. At other destinations on this journey, I met Mark Harrell of Bad Axe Tools, David Marks, and folks at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking. I learned that some woodworking programs accept the G.I. Bill, but most do not. Perhaps my film can change that, helping to make woodworking therapy a reality for many more veterans.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Stay tuned. Ken will be posting more blogs about his project to explore and expand the healing power of woodworking.

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