Feb 11, 2013 12:38 PM by Tara Grimes (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Great Falls resident and US Air Force captain Jahrod Matlock began making special wooden and bullet pens as therapy for his PTSD, but after some hard work, he has turned it into a business.
After serving 10 and a half years in the military including two tours in Iraq, Matlock landed in a 30-day outpatient program at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He took classes on how to transition back into civilian life, as well as learned ways to deal with his PTSD. Before leaving he pick up two wooden pens that needed to be created from an arts and crafts cart.
"On my way back I made the wooden pen, but I messed it up," Matlock said. "I didn't make it right at all. But I really loved doing it, I was on the airplane doing it. I really loved doing it. So I did research. It took me about two and a half to three weeks and I did research on how to fix the pen, and on Thanksgiving day I finished the pen."
Since then he's gone on to make nearly 100 pens from scratch.
The soft calm music he listens to while making them and the patience and focus it takes to do so have helped Matlock deal with his PTSD symptoms.
"I don't get flashbacks while I'm doing this," Matlock said. "I'm not jumping at every single sound that I hear while I'm doing this either, all these sounds are comfortable and known to me."
Not only does it provide therapy for him, but it's also brought in business. This started after a neighbor saw him making them on his porch outside. When asked if he would take 20 dollars for one, he started thinking about what the future could hold for this new-found hobby. Since each pen is unique in its own way, Matlock decided to name his business "PenTories." Some of the pens are made of bullets, others are made from woods from Africa and Madagascar, and a few are made from some of the world's rarest wood.
Now that Matlock is being honorably discharged from the military, the only life he's ever known, it's each of these pens that are helping him to write the next chapter of his life while also helping him to deal with the past.
"The bullet pens mean a lot to me because I can no longer be in the military, but it doesn't mean the fight is out of me," Matlock said.
Matlock also donates 10 percent of his sales of the bullet pens to the Wounded Warrior's Project.
To learn more, visit Matlock's PenTories Facebook page.