YORK COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — A York County veteran found a new mission in life through woodworking.
Tyler Barnhart joined the military at the age of 21. In 2009, he was injured during a training exercise and was medically discharged. While battling depression, he was introduced to woodworking as a way of therapy.
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“When I got home, I struggled with it big time because that was my dream. I loved the military and to have it for a short period of time, and then it taken away from me was a little difficult,” Barnhart said.
After breaking his back, he struggled with his injury and depression. The pandemic postponed appointment after appointment, and his pain was getting worse.
It was last year he turned to his friend, John, in the darkest of times. John is also a veteran and a Purple Heart recipient.
“If it wasn’t for him, I don’t know where I would’ve been at,” Barnhart said. “He knew I had so much more potential but I just wasn’t putting any effort into it, you know I just kind of gave up on everything.”
Now, Barnhart spends a lot of his time woodworking in his garage. And eventually, his woodworking business, a passion, took off.
“We started making a flag and we were going through the process and I was like ‘this is fun, I’m enjoying it’ and that’s what sparked the whole thing for me,” he said.
He now owns and operates Battle Cry Woodworks, where he makes wooden American flags and donates them to fellow veterans and their families as a way to thank them for their service.
“They sacrificed for that flag, that symbol, those three colors, red, white, and blue, and those 50 stars. When I’m doing that, I’m thinking about how this symbol of our country might bring some peace to their mind,” he said.
And it also brings Barnhart peace, even though his injuries still cause him pain.
“When I’m dremeling out all these stars and the logo and I bring it to life, I kind of feel like I’m in this little mode of peace. Like it’s just me, myself and it’s good thoughts, nothing bad,” he said. “There are times I wanted to quit and I kept pushing forward and it’s become so much more than what I ever expected it to be and I met so many people from it, too.”
“It’s one of those things, you don’t always find friends like that in the regular world,” Jacoby said.
Friends like Jeremy Jacoby, who he met through the Roots for Boots organization. He also gives thanks to Brian Rohrbaugh, a sergeant with the York County Sheriff’s Department.
Since Barnhart has started, he’s made between 50-100 flags.
Most of the wooden flags are given for free. The money he does make off of them goes to a donation fund to help more veterans.