Helping returning veterans cope with PTSD through blacksmithing
November 08, 2017 06:38 AM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – When a military service member returns from combat, it can be hard to define a sense of identity separate from serving.
Some Albuquerque veterans want to change that, and help others find a way out of the darkness that can follow. One of the ways they’re doing so is by providing guidance on blacksmithing with Battle Forge ABQ, and helping participants build support networks through creating art.
Forging iron or steel can turn a once useful piece of scrap into a tool with new purpose, but organizers at Battle Forge ABQ hope workshops on the technique will transform more than metal. They’re teaching veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries and other service-related challenges about the art of blacksmithing.
“We put it in the forge, beat it around with a hammer, heat it up, reshape and repurpose it, and turn it into something new and functional that the veteran can use now,” founder Rob Mitchell says about the metal that is forged to create something new. “That's what we're hoping to do with the veteran. They might come back without a purpose and don’t feel like they belong anywhere, so we bring them to the forge, and (with work and support) they come out with a new purpose and a new mission, and now fit into society again.”
Battle Forge ABQ is already offering workshops with the help of local partners such as Iron Shepherd Forge. They connect participating veterans with instruction and do what they can to help those veterans get their hands on the necessary tools and materials so that accessing the outlet doesn’t require emptying their wallet.
They’re accepting donations in the form of scrap steel – specifically mild- or high-carbon steel, including leaf-springs, coil-springs, torsion bars and drive shafts. They will also take certain types of iron, including wrought iron, and tools including hammers.
Mitchell also founded Full Battle Rattle ABQ, which works to connect veterans to lessons and instruments so they can access music as a creative and constructive outlet. You can read about Mitchell’s experiences with PTSD and what he hopes people will learn about many veterans go through here.
Updated: November 08, 2017 06:38 AM
Created: November 08, 2017 06:25 AM
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