In the Beginning
In 2000 Rob Cosman, a Canadian master woodworker, began his Training the Hand Workshops teaching traditional hand tool woodworking. The workshops were a big success and attracted folks from all walks of life who wanted to learn how to build traditional wood furniture. Rob traveled across Canada and the U.S. teaching his traditional methods of woodworking. At one of his workshops, Rob met retiring U.S. Army Colonel Luther Shealy and a lifelong friendship was formed. Luther apprenticed with Rob and eventually assisted Rob in teaching the workshops.
In 2016 Rob was contacted by Jesse; a former U.S. Marine who was suffering from the effects of an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) blast that destroyed the vehicle he was in while on patrol in Iraq. Medically retired from the military due to his injuries, Jesse explained how he found therapeutic relief from the mental and physical pain he struggled with by immersing himself in traditional hand tool woodworking.
The encounter with Jesse was life-changing for Rob, and he was determined to see if he could help other suffering Wounded Warriors through woodworking. With the financial support of an anonymous benefactor and other, enough money was raised to fully fund seven combat Wounded Warriors to the 2016 Training the Hand Workshop. The results were tremendous.
The PHP is Created
Rob, Jake (Rob's son), Luther formalized the Purple Heart Project to help mentally or physically combat Wounded Warriors find joy and peace through the therapy of traditional woodworking. Donations flowed in to support the program. Along the way, David Benson, a U.S. Army combat Wounded Warrior joined the PHP team. The Bench Brigade, a group of volunteer woodworkers, was later formed by retired U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sergeant Jack Lane to build workbenches for the PHP selectees.
The PHP Today
Today, the PHP is a growing non-profit charity that selects and funds combat Wounded Warriors to attend Rob’s Training the Hand Workshops in Canada, provides each Wounded Warrior with a premium set of hand tools, and a premium workbench from the Bench Brigade when they return home. After their workshop, each PHP selectee is supported and connected to the PHP community for a lifetime of woodworking support and recognition.