What we do
My name is Tony Fantasia and I live outside San Antonio TX with my wife Kathryn and our three beautiful children. I served as a combat medic in the Army for about twelve years and when I finished my tours in Afghanistan and Iraq I had enough garbage in my head to send me on a downward spiral toward paranoia, depression, and isolation. As a Combat Medic in the U.S Army I served proudly and fought the same battles every other Veteran has. Only after I started working with leather as a hobby did I begin to find my way back home. The very principles of my craft became my road map. Being aware of the here and now was the first step. Choosing a project that made me happy and focusing on it took my mind off my problems. Making custom pieces for customers helped me learn to communicate and listen actively to others and design a product that made them happy. Soon, their happiness with my work became my joy. I found peace and contentment in the satisfaction of setting and achieving goals and pushing myself further and further outslide my comfort zone every day until I was finally comfortable and secure going outside once again.
When my leather work hobby began turning into a nice little side business I started teaching classes to anyone with an interest in learning the craft. One day over our morning coffee, Kathy and I were discussing one of the classes and she suggested we start a Non-Profit organization together focused on art and craft as therapy for Veterans and their families. Four weeks later here we are. We are excited with the progress we have made in such a short period of time and I am looking forward to seeing where this road takes us.
At VetCraft we are dedicated to helping Military Veterans cope with and recover from the effects Post Traumatic Stress Disorder brought about by their experiences during and after their service to our country. Most people will never know what it's like to serve in a war zone, and even fewer understand what it is like to return from one. The lives we left behind are forever changed. We struggle to fit back into the mold with the same viewpoint that we once had, but that is no longer possible. We have seen death, fought it, dealt it, and survived it, but at a price.
Our organization aims to provide an introduction to the creative process and the stress management benefit that comes with it. Through our work together you will have the opportunity to learn a variety of craft skills that you can use anywhere to relax yourself and, if you are interested, to build a self-sustaining business. We have volunteer instructors around the country willing to teach you what they know at no cost to you. Students will eventually be able to locate artists and craftsmen in their area and schedule their classes. Our goal is to have as many different offerings in as many locations as we can to help you find a a skill that interests you.
Along with this basic offering we are also able to provide instruction in Mindfulness techniques through the assistance of the good people at the International Center for Mental health and Human Rights. The specialize in teaching grounding and centering techniques designed to help the individual focus on the "here and now" and control the fight or flight response governed by the Amygdala. We also have access to the BrainTones binaural entrainment system, developed by Dr. Erin Stair MD, as another tool assist in retraining the brain to better deal with issues such as stress, depression, , anxiety, focus, and other aspects of PTSD.
Yet another exciting aspect of our program is a full scale PTSD research study being developed with the assistance of Dr. Kathryn Keeton, PhD and her associates at the Minerva Work Solutions center. Dr. Keeton is a research psychologist with NASA and the Director of her Non-Profit organization. She and her colleagues are donating their time and expertise to develop a survey methodology and PTSD study to accurately measure the benefit of these offerings, either individually or in various combinations. With this study we will be able to contribute directly to the existing effort to determine the most effective therapies and the means by which we can make these therapies available to all who need it.
Veteran Support Ecosystem
One of our goals at VetCraft is to establish an EcoSystem of Veteran and PTSD support by helping those who need services find those services. I have had the pleasure to meet and work with these organizations and the wonderful people who make them so meaningful. Please take some time to pay them a visit and tell others what you find out.