Lending 19Hands to veterans and first responders through blacksmithing
As leaders at Leidos, we are constantly on the lookout for creative and exciting ways to engage with our teams. Since Leidos is very proud of our veteran employees, we have a special place in our hearts to continue engaging with other veterans and support local organizations that do great things for our veteran communities. The War Horse Forge program of non-profit organization 19Hands is such a place.
War Horse Forge was established in 2018, and began offering blacksmithing classes to veterans, active duty, and first responders. It soon became a very successful alternative outlet for our local veterans who may be suffering from signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Simply put, the therapeutic nature of hitting hot metal with a hammer and forming it into a useful tool provides a lot of stress relief, a point of focus, a goal, and ultimately an end product that anyone would be proud of.
On September 30, 2021, our team participated in an offsite team building event at War Horse Forge to continue building on good working relationships, nurture morale, and to simply get to better know one another outside of work.
Our Mission Engineering Division is both customer- and community-focused, and we do our best to integrate our support for country and team. At our heart, we are problem solvers that enjoy building things and exercising our creative minds, so fabricating a unique tool from iron at a veteran-owned non-profit was a perfect opportunity for us to bond as a team.
Having a deep appreciation for our military veterans and the programs that support them, we spent the day at the War Horse Forge, owned and operated by David (Dave) Sietz, a Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel. Throughout our day, we transformed ordinary railroad spikes into fully functional, sharpened, and polished knives. It would be remiss to say that Dave gets all the credit for making “War Horse” so successful. There is another retired Officer lending their support onsite at the forge. Their mascot, “Gordy”, a retired Arlington National Cemetery “Old Guard” Percheron horse, who stands at a staggering 19 hands tall (74 inches at his shoulder)!
The mission of 19Hands is to provide free, hands-on learning programs for veterans, active-duty military, first responders, and their families to improve their physical and mental well-being. War Horse forge has created a community of support that extends outside of their classes and offers opportunities for veterans to attend one of the many open forge nights, provided weekly, just to hang out and simply be around others who can empathize with what they may be feeling. Just being there and providing a place for folks that may be suffering from PTSD an outlet to talk is a great benefit to the veteran and first responder community.
For more information on how you can contribute, attend, or support this local charity, please visit www.19hands.org.