Navy SEAL veteran takes hobby of woodworking and turns it into non-profit to help LEO’s, first responders

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Virginia: Many of our nation’s heroes experience challenges that come directly from the nature of their professions.

Law enforcement officers spend shift after shift dealing with the decay of society. Firefighters storm houses that are engulfed in flames not knowing what the next few minutes will bring. Servicemen and women are often deployed overseas to tumultuous countries with unstable governments and enraged populations.

All those stressors wreak havoc on the mind, the body and the soul. This is commonly known as Post Traumatic Stress, or PTS.

But PTS is tricky.

It can severely affect a person after one seemingly minor incident. Or it could have little to no affect for someone who spent a career in one of the previously mentioned professions.

There’s really no way to tell. There’s no scientific or mathematical approach to prepare and manage the effects of post traumatic stress.

You just have to move forward as best as possible.

Another problem is many of our nation’s heroes don’t even realize they are dealing with Post Traumatic Stress. They may normalize certain behaviors like unnecessary risk-taking, anger issues, alcoholism, short tempers- you name it.

Managing Post Traumatic Stress

Every once in a while, our heroes stumble upon an activity that changes everything. They set themselves on a path to healing which gives them a whole new outlook on life.

That’s exactly what happened to James ‘Jimmy’ Hintzke.

Navy SEAL veteran takes hobby of woodworking and turns it into non-profit to help LEO's, first responders

Jimmy retired in 2015 after 30 years in the Navy, most of that time with the Navy Seals.

After retirement, he sought different activities in hopes to fill the massive gap that the Navy occupied for so long. As a man who likes to work with his hands, he started working with crafts and woodworking.

He then found his calling.

Jimmy told LET:

“I found that making and building things were fun, but later realized how therapeutic it was. Putting together these projects helped me relax. I quickly found out that this was my new path.”

He learned how to make custom knives (his most popular item), wooden flags, shields- a variety of unique creations. He then took his new hobby of creating stunning pieces and decided to take it to a much bigger direction. So he started his own business- Valhalla’s Mission Force.

Valhalla’s Mission Force

As someone who lived a life of service, he wanted more than just a business because money wasn’t his motivator- helping people was. He used his creative skills and went well beyond just building beautifully crafted items and selling them on Ebay.

Navy Seal veteran takes hobby of woodworking and turns it into non-profit to help LEO's, first responders
Team members create a shield for the Warrior for Life Fund. Image courtesy of @sealartisan IG page.

He wanted to provide an experience for his customers. He wanted others to experience the therapeutic effects that he discovered by building these pieces. The mainframe of his business is to offer classes for people, teams and even families to come together, learn and a build their own pieces. All his team does is provide the material, the guidance and leads them to beautiful pieces of art.

But his mission didn’t end there.

After spending years with the Navy Seals, he understands the challenges servicemembers, first responders and law enforcement officers go through. He wanted to be a part of a way to help them.

Jimmy told LET:

“We just held a workshop for 12 police officers. We had them come in and offered a free workshop to help them build their own customized knife from scratch- all on our dime. I have folks pay for the event. My foundation covers half or more of the cost, but getting more free stuff takes away from our style.”

Flags for the Fallen

Jimmy knows too well what it’s like to lose a friend during service to their nation. He decided to use his talent to give back.

For every officer and firefighter who lost their lives in the line of duty, Jimmy committed himself to building a custom flag to send to the family of the fallen. He wants to provide the family a means to honor and commemorate their loves one’s service- a reminder to the type of heroes they were to their community.

Navy SEAL veteran takes hobby of woodworking and turns it into non-profit to help LEO's, first responders
Community members help put together Flags for Fallen to be given to the families.

The Flags for the Fallen program is just the tip of the iceberg for his charitable efforts. Valhalla’s Mission Force supports 20 other charitable causes and is rowing.

Jimmy has mastered the balance between running a successful business and contributing to charitable causes. But his passion is by far helping those who serve and helping those whose profession it is to help the community and the country.

Jimmy and Valhalla Mission Force’s only limitation is money. Jimmy told LET:

“I want to help as many law enforcement officers, fire fighters and veterans as possible because I understand the challenges they face. The more money I can raise, the more heroes I can help.”

You can help Jimmy by donating to his IRS recognized 501 (c) (3) Non-Profit organization by visiting his website, www.valhallasmissionforce.com

You can also check out a list of the courses available and more about his work.

Follow them on Instagram at @sealartisan

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Navy SEAL veteran takes hobby of woodworking and turns it into non-profit to help LEO's, first responders

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