Woodworking saved my life and now it’s my duty and honor to pay it forward

We’ve been working with Shawn Mancera to gain a better perspective and understanding of the very real impact that our veterans face upon returning home from combat duty overseas trying to re-adjust to a normal life.  

With this in mind, Shawn has embraced woodworking as a way to make a difference not only in his life, but also in helping many other veterans truly find their way back home. We encourage all of our woodworking audience to read the following and to help out as you may deem appropriate.  Let’s help both Shawn and all of our returning veterans make a positive difference in their lives.

My name is Shawn Mancera.  I’m a Marine Corps combat veteran (2 tours in Afghanistan). After serving my country proudly for 8 years I came home… well at least physically. On the inside I was a wreck.  I had flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety living with TBI (traumatic brain injury) due to an IED (Improvised Explosive Device).

To top it off my mother (my hero who raised me without my father) suddenly and unexpectedly passed away.  Suicide seemed to be the only way out of this hell on earth… that is until a VA counselor introduced me to woodworking.  I instantly fell in love with it.  I became totally immersed in the task before me, forgetting everything else, including the unwanted memories.

Woodworking saved my life and now it’s my duty and honor to pay it forward and save the lives of other veterans living with PTSD.  With the little money I had I invested in a small workshop, composed mostly of salvaged and restored tools, and opened it up to veterans.  Learning to use hand tools to create a piece of furniture is a small part of what my workshop does for veterans suffering from myriad wounds inflicted during combat.

The time spent in my shop provides an opportunity for these veterans to develop new memories in a non-war context and a place that helps them ease back into their civilian community.  I understand first handed the positive attributes physical creativity has on the unseen scars of war. They can concentrate on something other than the battlefield. It gets them out of the house, offers validation, makes them feel accepted and lets them band together with others who know what they’re going through.

I recruit veterans by posting ads around the West L.A. Veterans Affairs Hospital, local veterans’ centers, and within the veteran’s housing community in which I live.  If you would like to help me help Veterans by donating any tools (new or used, dented, rusty it doesn’t matter) it would help tremendously. I would be forever grateful.  We cannot accept monetary donations, but we welcome gift cards to stores which carry woodworking tools/supplies.

The workshop address is:

2309 blue butterfly way

San Pedro CA 90732

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email me at shawnmichaelmancera@gmail.com