GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- Independence Day has significant meaning for our veterans. And over the last few years, 15 or so veterans feel like they've regained their independence thanks to a woodsman.
You walk into a woodshop expecting to hear at first, carving.
But instead, singing and laughter fills the room at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans.
You'll find veterans like John Stockwell, who'll tell you they're back in high school woodshop.
"Oh we have a ball," he said.
"This really hits the masculine," said Mel Campbell. "There's such a comradery."
Campbell and a fellow veteran created a walking stick for a wounded warrior here.
"I'm in second childhood right here," said Stockwell.
The smiles on the face of Stockwell, Campbell and others, didn't used to always be there.
"Without it this would just be a boring, a hospital," said Campbell.
"Boring, boring," said Stockwell.
"And there's something wrong with every one of us," said Campbell.
"I never served in the military," said Michael Becker.
Becker ended up in the woodshop by way of his own wounds.
"Auto accident, lost my legs, lost my job," he said.
He's their teacher.
"Maybe do the edge in brown, and add some artificial sand," he told Stockwell.
And you could call him the glue that holds this shop, and these friendships, together.
"He has been through it himself. He knows what we're facing," said Campbell. "Plus he's a fantastic friend."
He takes them to get materials. He builds bird houses for Stockwell, who has muscle weakness in his hands. In just 6 months, Stockwell has learned to design log cabins. This is number 25.
"If we don't know how to do it, he'll find out a way. This place couldn't survive without him."
Becker sees it simply as giving back.
"I didn't stand in harms way of anything, and I really appreciate the guys who have."
But he's getting something he didn't expect in return.
"I worked in the tool and dye trade for 29 years and the reward wasn't there. This is hands on and these guys really appreciate it," he said.
"If you say Mike 'can I say thank you,' he says 'I don't want your thanks,'" said Campbell. "Sure we're veterans, and we've paid our price, but we have to live now. But because of people like Mike, it makes it easy."
Stockwell, who makes the birdhouses, also gives back. He plays bingo with his birdhouse sales profits and gives it to the veterans who need extra cash.