Wood turning helps Soldiers heal
August 1, 2012
FORT BENNING, Ga. (Aug. 1, 2012) -- If you look up "wood turning" in the dictionary, you will find its meaning: taking a piece of wood and turning it into a functional object or a work of art.
What the dictionary won't tell you is the activity began to blossom after World War II, according to the American Association of Woodturning, and it is helping Soldiers heal.
In the local community, an organization called the Bi-City Woodturners, which specializes in this craft -- has reached out to Fort Benning's wounded Soldiers.
The organization's primary goal is to promote wood turning as an art and craft, as well as train individuals, said Bob Salvetti, president of the Bi-City Woodturners.
He calls it creating the "ultimate beauty" by using what Mother Nature has provided.
"The medium is wood in its rawest form as opposed to lumber," Salvetti said. "You take a piece of log off a tree -- that's a blank canvas."
The form the wood takes -- and its function if it has one -- is endless with different objects being created from a single piece of wood, he said.
The Bi-City Woodturners hosts wood turning workshops 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Monday in Fortson, Ga. Although open to anyone interested, the nonprofit organization works with Soldiers.
"It's just great to see (Soldiers) get involved, express their interest and enthusiasm for something new and different," he said. "It's nice, relaxing and in some ways … it's getting away from the world."
People enjoy sharing their skills with others, Salvetti said, and enjoy seeing people benefit from their skills.
Peggy Guderian, a nurse case manager, said wood turning is another outlet for Soldiers.
"Every day they focus on their medical conditions and this gives them an outlet to do something different," she said. "A lot of these Soldiers have never worked with wood before."
Wood turning gives Soldiers confidence, as well and creates new friendships, Salvetti said.
"I enjoy talking with the older guys at the wood turning shop," said Spc. Pete Cowden of 75th Ranger Regiment. "Some of them are Vietnam veterans and can relate with us. I used to be active and play sports as a hobby, and it is nice to be able to pick something up to replace it."
Soldiers consider the wood turning shop to be beneficial to their healing process, said Staff Sgt. Caleb Perkins of 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.
"It has really helped the injured Rangers in the section by providing them with not only a skill of using a wood lathe, but showing them that they are still useful and can create something out of a block of wood," he said.
Having attended the workshop himself, Perkins said wood turning helps define the human condition.
"We are not injured, useless Soldiers; we are individuals capable of learning and implementation," he said. "There is also the therapeutic aspect of wood turning; you take a rough piece of wood and meticulously form (it) into whatever you can imagine."
For more information about the Bi-City Woodturners, visit www.bicitywoodturners.com or call Salvetti at 706-884-8895.