COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KDVR) — There are about 19 million veterans in the United States, and many of them are looking for a way to continue serving their country long after their time in the military. A Colorado man has found a way, with the help of some spray paint and wood.
“I was going to be a paramedic. I was going to go work on an ambulance. And then God had other plans,” said Army veteran Zach Smith, owner of US Veteran Woodworks.
A few years ago, Smith discovered a skill for woodworking and art.
“I didn’t watch any YouTube videos. Mine was all hands-on. Everything is trial and error,” Smith said.
His workshop is his garage, where he’s created more than 8,000 pieces of art, shipped all over the world.
But he’s also found a way to give back to those who served. The gift of his colorful art is now cherished by families of the fallen. When a Colorado sheriff’s deputy was killed in the line of duty three years ago, Smith created a memorial flag and sent it to the deputy’s loved ones. After that, he decided to do it again every time a military member or first responder in his home state was killed in the line of duty. Sadly, the work has kept him busy.
“It’s tragic, you know. It’s something that you don’t ever want to have happen. I mean, just a couple years ago I remember building three in a month,” Smith said.
So far, he’s honored more than 20 families of the fallen, gifting them with a keepsake that honors their hero in a way nothing else can.
“These people are all public servants, you know? An important part of being an American is serving your country,” Smith said.
Samples of Smith’s tributes to the fallen can be found on his Facebook page.
Smith’s service to the community doesn’t end with his artwork. He recently organized a group of more than 100 volunteers to help a Vietnam-era veteran clean up his property after a wildfire burned down his house.
“Veterans answer the call, you know? We answered the call with multiple wars and attacks against our country. So something stateside like this, especially an older gentleman that served in the Vietnam era? All he had to do was say help, and that’s what we did,” Smith said.