FORT BRAGG, N.C. (March 1, 2013) -- Four former servicemembers participated in a woodworking workshop at the RecPlex on Pope Field, Jan. 19.
Matsuei “Max” Martin, uses a bandsaw to carve the shape of a jewelry box on Jan. 19, at the RecPlex on Pope Field. Martin is one of four wounded warriors to participate in the woodworking class which was taught by volunteers from the North Carolina Woodworker’s Association. (Photo by Sgt. Candace Le/22nd)MPAD
The class was given by members of the North Carolina Woodworker’s Association, which is an online forum comprised of hobbyists from all over North Carolina and neighboring states.
This was the second month in a row that the volunteer group had visited Pope Field for nearby wounded warriors.
“This month we’re a little better prepared to take on the variety of what the guys want to do,” said Phil Soper, vice president of the club.
Soper’s right-hand man, Bill Clemmons, coordinator for the outreach project, expanded on the idea.
“We thought they would want to make something fancy. We learned just the opposite,” Clemmons said about the workshop in December. “They were happy with whatever they made (and) they were happy because they made it.
“Today, we’re giving them all the choices they want, whichever machine they want to work on, what they want to make,” he continued.
One particular veteran, who was once afraid of simple tasks due to limited mobility in her hands said she appreciated the focus it took to manipulate the wood with the tools.
“When I retired in 2011, I didn’t have the hand strength even to hold a knife to prepare my own meals,” said Matsuei ‘Max’ Martin, a medically retired Air Force and Army National Guard veteran.
Martin damaged her spine in three places during an accident in a high-mobility, multi-wheeled vehicle during a training exercise.
“Working with the wood today helped me with my confidence,” she said. “I was a little apprehensive because of my hand strength. I wouldn’t be able to do things now, but it showed me I can do things that I wasn’t able to do before, just with slight modifications and assistance from other people.”
The participants weren’t the only ones who benefited from the service of the woodworkers.
“You can’t describe the feeling of how happy those guys are just to be doing something and to know that you’re helping in some way,” Clemmons said describing his work with the wounded warriors. “It’s very rewarding. We went back and told everybody in our organization, if you have a chance to participate in this, do it. It’s worth it.”
The volunteers got down to the details of the seminar.
Soper created the tool stands to be adjustable by height and they can also be tilted down for persons in wheelchairs.
“We’ve designed it so that they can still participate,” said Soper about persons with limited mobility like those in wheelchairs or who have artificial limbs. “We haven’t had that opportunity yet but if it presents itself, we’ll be ready.”
The project is ever growing, with more requests from volunteers to teach different and new skill sets.
Next month the woodworkers hope to be able to bring eight volunteers, two more than this month to whichever post, school, or Scout troop meeting they are called to teach at.
For more information on events for wounded warriors visit: www.woundedwarriorproject.org and for more information on the North Carolina Woodworkers visit: www.ncwoodworker.net.
Sgt. Candace Le, 22nd MPAD