Sep 14, 2015
Nate Bocker founded Resilience Forge in Ft. Belvoir, Virginia in
2013 to help wounded soldiers, veterans and their families learn
new skills and foster a greater sense of community. Out of his
2-car garage on base, the active duty US Army Sargent offers free
knife-making classes dubbed “Blade Therapy.” Now that the
organization has received official non-profit status, Bocker is
looking to expand and bring the therapeutic effects of
blacksmithing to a wider community.
What We Talked About
- Nate Bocker learned basic
blacksmithing and bladesmithing in high school and found it
extremely therapeutic when he returned to it as an adult
- Bocker began working with the Warrior Transition Unit at Ft.
Belvoir in 2013 when they were looking for extra-curricular
activities for soldiers and veterans. 2 years later, he's had more
than 30 students at informal bladesmithing (knife-making)
- Bocker finds that the work has a calming effect
and promotes self-healing due to its introspective and meditative
- The hand-eye coordination involved in blacksmithing has been
shown to use the same part of brain that's affected by PTSD. It
seems to help with Traumatic Brain Injury also.
- Bocker would like to expand the non-profit beyond
knife-making and into a broader array of craftsmanship such as
pottery, ceramics, painting, photography, sculpting etc. He
realizes that smithing not suited for everyone but that working
with the hands in general is therapeutic.
- He would also like to include all marginalized
groups, including those with disabilities and those who are
socially and economically disadvantaged by opening the group up to
the wider community.
- Resilience Forge was recently approved for non-profit status.
Bocker had been funding the classes personally and with the help of
donations of equipment and materials.
- There is a Go Fund Me crowd-funding campaign for
the organization at http://www.gofundme.com/resilienceforge
- Bocker loves the multi-generational appeal of
Resilience Forge. “One of the coolest things that's come out of
this is realizing the community benefit. [The Vietnam veterans] are
seeing this as a chance to make sure what happened to their
generation doesn't happen again and from our side, this is a chance
to work with guys that were our heroes.”
- Resilience Forge has been impressive as a
community builder, bringing many different groups together. “While
initially we're working with veterans, it's something we need as a
country,” Bocker says. “We really need to reinvestigate the idea of
talking and working out our differences and finding out that we're
really not as different as we think we are.”
- Bocker currently teaches very informal sessions 3
days a week and students can drop in as often as they like.
- In the 2-car garage, Resilience Forge contains a
3-in-1 mill; a vertical forge; two anvils and a post anvil; one
forge (with two more being built); a heat treat oven; grinding
station with three grinders; woodworking tools; surface
grinder; drill press; a finishing and polishing station.
- Bocker would like to start Resilience Forge
chapters in other locations and has materials available to anyone
interested. He also welcomes other groups to start similar programs
independently under their own name.