Fort Leonard Wood soldiers in the Warrior Transition Unit showed some of their work, and the teachers in the unit’s Hand Skills Workshops visited with supporters at a benefit luncheon Saturday at the Lions Club Den.

Fort Leonard Wood soldiers in the Warrior Transition Unit showed some of their work, and the teachers in the unit’s Hand Skills Workshops visited with supporters at a benefit luncheon Saturday at the Lions Club Den.
“It turned out good,” said organizer Don Wilson. “All three of the classes were here -- leatherwork, art and music.”
Wilson said he appreciated the community support for the chili and hot dog lunch.
“I couldn’t have done it without them,” he said of the Lions Club support. “They didn’t charge a thing” to use the Lions Den and to help with the cooking and serving. The Lioness Club provided an abundance of desserts.
The food prepared by the Lions came from Country Mart, thanks to manager Glen Sapaugh.
“He donated it all,” Wilson said.
Eighth District U.S. Rep. Jason Smith and Missouri Sen. Dan Brown attended and spoke to the veterans and their supporters.
Wilson said all money raised through donations given at the luncheon will go to the workshops to pay for supplies, such as paint, canvasses, music, instruments and leather and leather tools.
The teachers volunteer their time.
“The people who teach the music drive 75 miles one way,” said Wilson. “People like that are dedicated.”
The genesis of Wilson’s involvement with the Warrior Transition Unit goes back to the summer of 2012 when Rolla artist Dan Woodward asked him to dress as Bushwhacker Bill Wilson, his great-grandfather, so Woodward could photograph him and use those images as an aid in realistic Civil War sketches and paintings.
Wilson goes into projects wholeheartedly, so he began calling people to find others to help in re-enacting scenes. Through phone calls, he was led to Terry Cadenbach, a re-enactor who has appeared in movies and documentaries.
Cadenbach volunteers to teach leatherworking to soldiers in the Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Leonard Wood. In conversations, Wilson learned that Cadenbach and other teachers in the hand skills workshops spend their own money to help with the supplies and tools for the classes.
Wilson, with a new interest in Civil War re-enacting, printed a book, “Bushwhacker Bill Wilson Rides Again,” that is a reprint of an Ozarks classic, “Bushwhacker,” by George Clinton Arthur, along with new material and photographs from Don Wilson and his family.
That was about a year ago, and Don Wilson pledged to give a third of the proceeds from the sale of his book, “Bushwhacker Bill Rides Again,” to the Warriors Transition Unit Hand Skills Workshop.
His support of that program, one of several at the Soldier and Family Assistance Center at Fort Leonard Wood, is meant to raise money for the workshop, which helps soldiers who have been hurt, some in combat and some on their military jobs, with the healing of their minds, bodies and spirits.
Wilson reiterated in his remarks at the luncheon that the use of the term “Wounded Warriors” can be confusing.
The Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Leonard Wood is a military unit, and it is not part of the Wounded Warriors Project, a worthy national support agency that has a different mission from the post’s Warrior Transition Unit or the unit’s hand skills workshop.
As explained in a Jan. 28, 2013, Rolla Daily News report, Wilson took the initiative to work with Phelps County business leaders to form a 501(c)3 organization to accept donations for the hand skills workshop.
“We’ve taken in about $6,000 and paid out $5,800 for the leather class,” Wilson said. Of that total $1,440 came from the sales of the book.
Wilson said the plan continues to gain enough support for the program to help fund not just the leather class, but also the music class and the art class.
Wilson has worked with accountant Mollie Malone who agreed to donate her services to help in setting up the 501(c)3 organization to accept the donations from the book sales, as well as other donations from the community.
A bank account for “Warrior Transition Unit Hand Skills Workshops” has been set up at Central Federal Savings and Loan Association, and donations are being accepted.
A board consisting of Mayor Bill Jenks III; Bill Stoltz, president of Central Federal Savings and Loan Association; Matt Sanders, owner of Matt’s Steakhouse; and Jimmy Brown, owner of the St. James Flag Co.; oversees the payments from that account to the hand skills workshops.