Wounded Warriors

MCW Wounded Warrior Program in conjunction with The Walter Reed National Military Medical Center

(Don Van Ryk, MCW Director)

Turnings by Wounded Warriors

Montgomery County Woodturners (MCW) is assisting the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) in Bethesda in their efforts to provide therapy to Wounded Warriors in the final stage of recovery prior to returning to their units. MCW, in cooperation with the Wood Workers Club (WWC), provides basic instruction in various aspects of woodturning followed by MCW member volunteers providing guidance as the Warriors craft pens for themselves.

MCW’s History with Wounded Warriors Project

MCW’s involvement with the Wounded Warriors Project was started in 2009 by Bert Bleckwenn who, with MCW volunteers, assisted Warriors with making pens and key chains. Sessions were held monthly at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington D.C. MCW loaned lathes to the program as well as provided funds for turning supplies and obtained grant support through the American Association of Woodturners. Upon closure of the Walter Reed Medical Center and consolidation with the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD, the available space was deemed insufficient to continue the program at that location. At that point The Woodworkers Club became actively involved and provides valuable logistical support, including use of lathes and space at their location in Rockville. The WWC also leverages the corporate sponsorship of the Woodcraft Corporation through their Turn for the Troops program.

How MCW is helping now

MCW and The Woodworkers Club provide bi-weekly pen turning sessions to Wounded Warriors. Together we supply the location, facilities, lathes, materials, volunteers, and one-on-one instruction in pen turning so the Warriors, most of whom have no prior turning experience, can personally design and produce a pen, and occasionally, a key chain, in a single session. We also support the Woodworkers Club in Woodcraft’s Turn for the Troops program where typically well over one hundred pens are turned and donated to additional troops overseas and in other recovery facilities. All members of MCW are volunteers in this effort, whether you know it or not, through the financial support provided by the club. I would like to personally thank the regular volunteers, Richard Webster, Margaret Follas, Jack Enders, Bob Browning, and Emily Koo, without whose efforts and commitment the program would not be possible. All MCW Members are strongly encouraged to drop in to experience a session for themselves, as several have already done. Our participants unanimously report that these sessions are extremely rewarding to them, as well as to the Warriors.

How to Volunteer

After a brief hiatus, the Wounded Warrior program is restarting in March 2017. Sessions will be scheduled every other Friday from 12:30 to 2:30 at the Woodworker’s Club in Rockville. Based on past experience, the sessions may or may not happen when scheduled. Contact Don Van Ryk at dvanryk@niaid.nih.gov for information on volunteering and up-to-date scheduling information.