GALVA — Darren Ehrlich’s year of waiting is over. A Hollywood-made film featuring his handiwork will be released this Friday.
The disabled Desert Storm veteran turned his hobby into a full-time job in Galva by selling hand-made wood creations online. In May 2016, Ehrlich received a call from individuals who needed to rent eight of his military-themed wall plaques for the movie “Thank You for Your Service.” The film is directed by Jason Hall, the same director of “American Sniper” and follows the struggle military personnel undertake as they integrate back in to family and civilian life. It opens in theaters Oct. 27.
“When the trailer came out in July, probably nobody but me would notice on the first time through that three of my plaques were right there in the trailer. That was pretty awesome to see kind of a preview,” Ehrlich said.
In the film, Ehrlich’s plaques, which feature military logos and themes, decorate the walls of the film set in a Veterans Affairs hospital and American Legion post.
“Obviously I’m excited to see it. At the same time, I’ve heard some other veterans say that there’s some triggers,” Ehrlich explained.
Ehrlich explained that films like these may challenge the veterans, he hopes that the rest of the audience will feel challenged to learn more about post-traumatic stress disorder and the impact it has on service members.
“If this is a catalyst to bring this into the public eye and create more ways of people to get help, then it’s done its job. I kind of think their focus is to make people understand what some people go through,” Ehrlich said. “You come back and it feels like a completely different world. They’ve created a lot more things to help with reintegration, but it’s still a challenge.”
And hopefully, this increased awareness will improve things for future generations.
“My son is doing his second tour in Afghanistan right now. He’s a mechanic so fortunately he’s not in the middle of everything, but he’s still in a war zone and anything can happen. The more people can understand, I hope it can only help more,” Ehrlich said.
Ehrlich started woodworking over 30 years ago, but he put his hand tools aside to join the U.S. Army during Desert Storm in 1990.
Traveling from station to station made setting up shop difficult, so when he completed his last tour, Ehrlich started his company, D&M Woodworks, in 2006. When he became fully disabled in 2012, Ehrlich began showing his work at area craft shows and online.
Ehrlich considers himself a master carpenter because he’s spent the last 30 years perfecting common processes used in woodworking. He can produce nearly any type of project made with wood — jewelry boxes, furniture, carved wall plaques and custom products.
Over the past year, Ehrlich has also renamed his business to Kansas Wood Shop, but he continues to produce the same high-quality products.
“I’m doing the same things, the focus hasn’t changed, just decided we needed to update the name. I’m hoping the movie maybe changes things so we’ll see if people are interested in purchasing replicas of the plaques in the movie.”
For more information about Ehrlich and his products, visit http://kansaswood.com.
Contact Cheyenne Derksen Schroeder by email at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter at @MacSentinel.