By: Roger Renstrom
April 17, 2013
SAN DIEGO — An iWarriors.org group of mold makers and others has donated personalized iPads to 110 combat-wounded Marines, sailors and soldiers.
Tim Bartz, co-owner of Mold Craft Inc. of Willernie, Minn., and his wife, Kim, hatched the idea after hearing reports about severely injured Marines from a business colleague whose son was then in a military hospital in California.
In December 2010, Tim Bartz and Mold Craft co-owner Justin McPhee issued an initial $400 challenge to fellow members of the American Mold Builders Association. The appeal raised $10,000 in two weeks.
So far for the fiscal year that began Nov. 1, $48,000 has been raised through the AMBA and other donations, Tim Bartz said in a telephone interview.
The iWarriors.org fund was registered as a non-profit in July 2011 and, in its first official challenge year, raised $35,000.
On March 21, a team presented iPads and accessories to 16 wounded warriors at Naval Medical Center San Diego and other iPads and accoutrements to three persons at the non-profit Workshop for Warriors Inc. veterans' vocational training facility in downtown San Diego.
On March 22, iWarriors presented packages to 18 wounded individuals in the third battalion of the fifth Marine infantry regiment at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton near Oceanside, Calif. The Navy established the wounded warrior battalion west operation in 2006 and built a dedicated rehabilitation and physical therapy facility in 2011.
Each iWarriors' package included a personally engraved Wi-Fi-enabled iPad 2 device, an OtterBox Defender Series carrying case, Skullcandy Titan ear buds and an Apple iTunes Store gift card.
The March presenters for iWarriors included Tim and Kim Bartz; Rick Finnie and Geralyn Anderson of M.R. Mold & Engineering Corp. of Brea, Calif.; and Scott and Julie Smith of Rochester, N.Y. Scott Smith serves as director of sales for custom mold-base maker Craftsman Tool & Mold Co. of Aurora, Ill.
An initial March 2011 visit to the center in San Diego involved the Bartz family making presentations to nine Marines of whom three remain under treatment there. In another early presentation, AMBA members delivered iPads to six Marines at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.
In addition to Marines and sailors, "we have given iPads to seven Army soldiers, all of whom contacted us through the website after hearing about the program through the VA where they receive care," Kim Bartz said in an email. "It is quite amazing how quickly word travels throughout the hospitals and bases."
Since the March 2013 visits, seven Marines have contacted iWarriors.org. "I am working with them to receive their iPads," she said.
The personal engraving includes the service member's name, battalion name and motto. "It is one of the details that sets us apart from other non-profits," she said. "You can tell from the reaction of the guys when they first see the engraving how much it means to them that we took the time to personalize it."
The devices and accessories enable the warriors to maintain contact with their families, friends and the outside world during lengthy hospital stays.
Hernán Luis y Prado, a retired Navy officer, is chairman and president of Workshops for Warriors, which aims to train and certify wounded, disabled and unemployed military veterans and place them in manufacturing positions. The organization is located in a 7,500-square-foot rented San Diego location that is jointly occupied by Luis y Prado's LYP Industries LLC, a commercial operation.
The training includes skills in welding, computer-numerical-controlled machining, three-dimensional computer-aided-design software such as SolidWorks and CAD/computer-aided-manufacturing software such as Mastercam.
The Workshops for Warriors website lists supporters and amounts of in-kind and cash donations that total more than $3 million since 2010.
Workshops for Warriors has about 70 students enrolled now with more than 500 persons on waiting lists for classes.
On the commercial side, LYP supplies prototyping services and produces short runs through direct CNC machining of parts, manufactures soft tooling for casting parts in silicone or urethane and creates jigs and fixtures for production lines.
LYP output has included point-of-use mobile welding carts, compressed cylinder storage and transportation pallets, compressed air manifolds and fluid delivery systems and portable refrigerator carts.
In addition, LYP serves as a sales representative for seven manufacturers of tooling machines and two makers of CNC equipment.
Workshops for Warriors pursues challenge grants from the Gene Haas Foundation of Oxnard, Calif., and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers' education foundation of Dearborn, Mich. Each foundation offers to match cash donations to the workshops up to $100,000 creating the possibility of $400,000 in funding.
The iWarriors team plans to bring the matching-grant opportunities to the attention of the AMBA board during the association's national convention April 24-26 in Schaumburg, Ill. The AMBA is based in Rolling Meadows, Ill.
The non-profit St. Croix Valley Foundation of Hudson, Wis., administers the fund.
Hernán Luis y Prado, chairman and president of Workshops for Warriors, will speak on "Building Tomorrow's Manufacturing Workforce, One Veteran at a Time," at the Workforce Solutions West 2013 conference, scheduled for June 4-5 in Manhattan Beach, Calif., near Los Angeles. More more information about the event, which is sponsored by Plastics News, see www.plasticsnews.com/wsw2013.