ANKENY, Iowa -- Thousands of veterans returning from combat suffer from PTSD, but not everyone can find relief. One Ankeny veteran is now using wood carving to not only help himself, but help others.
Anthony Martin came back from serving in Afghanistan and Iraq a changed man.
“I blame myself for a conflict we were in, a couple guys ended up getting killed and I was the main guy up and going to get them support and I couldn't do it,” said Martin.
During a PTSD therapy program in Washington State, Martin found the help was searching for.
“I saw a guy out in a wheelchair, carving, with a chainsaw, and I was like 'if he can do it, I can do it, ‘cause I was in a wheelchair too,’” said Martin.
Anthony started to carve; now he no longer needs the wheelchair he was confined to.
“It probably helped out a lot. I'll come out here like twice a week, cause I watch my kid, we just ended up having a kid in December and it's like daddy daycare for me Monday through Friday, and I'll come out here Friday night for maybe a couple of hours, and it's like a whole new person,” said Martin.
Memorial Day is especially tough; he remembers one of his fallen friends as he carves.
“Terryl Pasker was like a mentor towards me, and when I got in the military he ended up getting killed. Memorial Day…to me… like a lot of people they go out and party and get with family and stuff. I can't” said Martin.
Carving isn't just therapy for Martin, he also wants to extend his service to other veterans. Martin created Logs4Heros, a program and business where other veterans can use carving as therapy, and with a specialized handicap accessible wood carving trailer, anyone can take part.
“I actually have a buddy who is in a wheelchair, he's a Vietnam vet, he comes out here every now and then, he can pull right up turn around, 360 degrees. Literally he can get in his wheelchair and completely cut and do whatever he wants,” said Martin.
Martin says he used his savings to create the trailer. The money raised from selling wood carvings goes back into Logs4Heros as well as to other veteran programs.
“I found out that therapeutic counseling is a cure to anything. I don't care what your issue is, get out there, find what you truly love and it seriously will help you; and if I can bring this to other veterans that struggle, maybe they can get out there and actually succeed,” said Martin.
He sees it as a way to extend his military service to those returning from the battlefield.
“It still feels like I’m there, but I'm not. I'm still putting forth towards veterans and stuff like that and try to communicate with other outside sources and say hey yeah, there's still a struggle here and we have to do something,” said Martin. “My goal is to get other veterans out there, to get them information and get them help instead of sitting there playing Xbox or drinking or whatever it is, cause PTSD, let’s face it, It’s a disability,” he said.
If you want to learn more about Logs4Heros you can click this link: https://www.facebook.com/Logs4Heroes/?fref=ts