How war veterans become watch makers? In the United States a special program offers disabled war veterans a new opportunity for the future outside the army. The program teaches them the fine and highly skilled art of watchmaking. For free. The Veterans Watchmaker Initiative (VWI) is the only technical school devoted to disabled veterans in the USA.
Unemplyment rate of 82%
The Paralyzed Veterans of America reported that the unemployment rate for disabled veterans is a staggering 82%. VWI is an organization set up to provide training, support and referral services to the wounded veterans returning from the wars. The goal is to return their dignity of purpose in a time honored craft: “Our programs are not easy, but the rewards upon completion would be a lifetime of providing for themselves and their families. A disability check from Uncle Sam does not provide the dignity of having paid your own way.”
The Joseph Bulova School of Watchmaking
The J. Bulova Company was founded in 1875 in New York City by Joseph Bulova. It quickly became the largest watchmaker in the world. In 1945 Josephs son Arde founded the Joseph Bulova School of Watchmaking. It was a non-profit institution to provide training and rehabilitation for disabled World War II veterans.
Way back then, the building already incorporated a wheelchair ramp in order to allow disabled veterans to enter the building easily. Not only an entire generation of watchmakers was trained there, the school also acted as one of the founders of wheelchair sports in America. And finally, the people felt they belonged to a community.
Unfortunately, the school closed in 1993. However, the Veterans Watchmaker adopted the initiative, updated it and took it to the next level.
The Watchmaker Program takes about 14 months. On completion, the students will be fully capable of making any repair to both mechanical and quartz watches.
Jason Adams graduated as one of the students of the 1st class: “This is an above-all comparable program to the top Watchmaker schools. It prepares students for high-level craftsmanship, professional conduct, and skills that are no longer taught at modern watchmaking schools. It makes the graduates top tier choices for Luxury brand companies. Being a graduate student, I was able to enter employment with confidence, knowledge, and ability to complete services as any other veteran watchmaker. The greatest notable part of the school is that it is a large family of people from many different backgrounds. The school now represents ground zero for my new life and the life of many future watchmakers, It will always be a place to call home.”
All pictures courtesy of Veterans Watchmaker Initiative.