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Cosman Hand Tool Workshops Offers Free Lifetime Membership to Wounded Vets

From Woodcraft’s Woodworking Adventures Blog, Posted on Aug 8, 2017 12:18 AM

 Time and time again, I have found that woodworkers have the biggest hearts in giving back when it comes to helping others. Assistance comes in many different forms, sometimes sharing their wisdom in the shop with projects to opening up their shops for education. But when it involves another human being who has been compromised by a misfortune in health or disability, woodworkers are the first to knock on the door to offer help, or come to the rescue with aid.  I have found woodworkers building shops for the disabled, helping them to acquire tools, picking their fellow woodworker up, driving them to and from an event, physician, rehab or hospital and just being there with their families. Many of these involve our returning service personnel who have faithfully served their country, and have come back with injuries, disabilities, and PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). This is the case for U.S. Marine Veteran Cpl. Jesse Paredes.

Jesse was in the NWSS (Nuclear Weapons Support Section) ground support division, flown into Central Iraq with the Osprey MV-22 helicopter/plane which has the ability to takeoff and land horizontally and vertically. Although his expertise is being a professional chef, he along with his division were trained in the infantry QRF (Quick Reaction Force) to Al Asad FOB (Fowarding Operating Base).  Jesse explained, “There are many great people in Iraq desiring peace, but also needing and wanting our help as they welcomed us into their villages.  Some of the Marines got together and donated toys to the children while stationed in Iraq.  He mentioned that the media sometimes paints a picture that all things are bad where we end up serving. That is not the case.  There was more good going on working with the people here.”

According to Jesse, “This area has small pockets of insurgents which not only strong arm our troop divisions, but also bully the peaceful communities living there.”  During the operation in which their main mission was to build water wells for three villages, they were driving back when they hit what turned out to be an old IED (Improvised Explosive Device).  Jesse was thrown from the vehicle and was injured. He has since finished his contract with the Marines, and has been honorably discharged.small 2-bedroom apartment lo

Jesse returned home to his cated in a complex in Southern California.  With nerve damage and internal injuries to his lower back, arms and wrists, he tried working for a while as a pro chef with some VA compensation. However the pain was too much to continue standing for long periods of time and the VA compensation was not enough to live on.  Jesse tries to work in his shop as much as possible every day, trying to get past the pain.  Usually 3-4 hours per day is all he can handle, as numbing, cold, pins and needles from nerve disorder sets into his fingertips and up his arms.

Jesse also has PTSD, or as the Veterans prefer to call it, the “Lieutenant Dan Syndrome” where harboring a plethora of feelings involving dislocation, hatred, shame, non-usefulness and being unneeded is a constant issue.  Additionally, “Fear of and in your own life from things you had to do, but didn’t want to do is an internal daily battle”, said Jesse.  He also remarked, “Some can handle it, and others can’t due to their upbringing as they fight to understand their internal moral and ethical compass, some end up taking their own lives.”

After reaching a settlement for his injuries, Jesse decided to get back into hobby woodworking that he loved so much during his shop classes in school.  He turned one of the 10′ x 10′ bedrooms in his apartment into a workshop.  To ensure safety, he padded the walls and floor with fire retardent underlayment for safety and materials to protect the room interior.  In addition Jesse added sound absorption materials for noise reduction in respect for the neighboring apartments.  Buying some cheap hand tools he began to create small boxes. His “shop” was not equipped with any high end or power tools tools, machines or even a workbench that he could perfect his skills with.  He began looking on YouTube at various woodworking videos to further educate himself, and came across Rob Cosman’s Online workshops.  Jesse stated, “I was drawn to Rob because he reminded me so much of my Uncle.  I admire him for his woodworking education, skill level, intellect, confidence, personality and just the way he carries himself, all attributes that my Uncle had.”

Jesse decided to email Rob and asked if Rob might have some reconditioned, flawed or less than perfect tools at a lower cost.  Rob emailed back a couple of weeks later during a week in which Jesse learned that a couple of his Veteran friends had taken their lives due to PTSD.  It was a real “emotional boost” for Jesse to hear from Rob.  Jesse immediately recognized Rob’s voice from all the videos he had viewed on YouTube and Rob’s site.  During those two weeks, Rob had already put together a plan of action to help Veterans like Jesse.

Through the student woodworkers at Rob’s Ontario based workshops, including a special “Santa Claus” who shall remain anonymous,  also Col. Luther (retired) from Seattle, Tony from Australia, have all donated thousands of dollars, which have intern been used for tool purchases, and donated to Jesse and others.  The tools include one of Rob’s Sjobergs workbenches, used only one week during the class, packaged back into it’s original box and shipped to Jesse with the help of Barb and Ann at Woodcraft‘s customer service department.  Tools donated to the cause were various WoodRiver hand planes, a WoodRiver Block Plane, a Scrub Plane, a set of Rob Cosman Hand Saws, educational materials and many other tools, all of which you can see in the photo above.  Jesse commented, “I love all my new tools, but especially the WoodRiver Planes!”

Rob and Jesse are now on a mission to give wounded/disabled Vets an opportunity to try hand tool woodworking as potential therapy for a path to peace from their injuries and PTSD.  It’s working for Jesse, and may work for others.  Putting the hands and mind together to woodwork and create takes their thoughts to a positive world.

But it doesn’t stop there. Jesse’s story struck Rob’s heart, and Rob has initiated a new program for all Wounded Warriors, with a FREE Lifetime Membership to Rob Cosman’s Online Hand-Tool-Workshop.  In addition to the free training and motivation through Rob’s Online WorkshopRob will also donate 10% of all Hand Saw sales to put tools in the hands of these Veterans.  Listen closely to the details and story about Jesse, Rob, and the secret Santa.  We hope you’ll be inspired to help these Vets too!

As shown in the video, Jesse has attended Rob’s Workshop Program and demoed along with Rob during our Woodcraft of Boise class.  A big thank you to Monte Eldfrick, owner of the Boise store and all of the crew there for welcoming and assisting Rob and Jesse.

Going forward, Jesse’s goals are to teach graphic design/plan classes, make small boxes, tool chests, cabinets, workbenches, specialized dressers that fold out to a workbench for other Veterans/woodworkers with small or apartment workshops.

To apply for the Vets Free Lifetime Membership, go to http://robcosman.memberlodge.com/ 

To apply for one of Robs scholarships to his Training the Hand Workshops go to Robcosman.com and pass the word on to the Veteran’s you may know.