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The Veterans Watchmaker Initiative is a registered 501 ( c ) 3 non-profit organization created to provide watchmaker training for disabled American veterans.

The training center will be the only technical school in the US dedicated specifically to honorably discharged veterans, with a concentration on disabled veterans.

Why watchmaking?

   There's an intense demand for professional watchmakers around the world right now - including 4,000 open jobs in the US alone.

   The unemployment rate among disabled veterans is a 82%.

   Veterans have the intelligence, the discipline and the motivation to become professional watchmakers - a craft which will give them dignity, purpose and the ability to provide well for themselves and for their families.

   Watchmaking is a revered, honorable, high paying profession which can be practiced in a manufacturing setting, in local jewelery stores, as a freestanding storefront business - and can even be practiced at home for those with mobility issues.

   There is NO COST to veterans with service connected disabilities. VWI will not ask for any veterans benefits. The cost of training and residence at the facility will be underwritten by the watchmaking industry, grants, and private donations.

   What Can I Do? If you're a vet, Contact Us.

If you'd like to donate to our building program or want to provide equipment or tools, please go to our Donations Page or Contact Us.

   If you're a watch service center or jeweler and would like to work with the Veterans Watchmaker Initiative by hiring one of our graduates, please let us know by clicking the Retailers/Service Centers button above and registering with VWI.

Odessa, DE Aug. 2016 - County Project Manager Bob Merrill transfers the keys to our new home in Odessa, DE, to VWI Chairman Sam Cannan.

Econ Secretary Visits VWI Site

Middletown, DE September 2015 - Bernice Whaley, Cabinet Secretary, Delaware Economic Development Office, left, and VWI Chairman Sam Cannan discuss the impact of the Veterans Training Center on the local and state-wide economy.

Site Dedicated to Veteran Watchmaker Training

March 2015 - Vet, officers of Delaware veterans organization, government officials and supporters gathered in Middletown recently to dedicate a four-acre plot of donated land to training US veterans. The technical center to be built here will be the only training center in the entire country built exclusively to train veterans for a new profession.

VWI School Property Acquired!

This architect's rendering shows what the Veterans Watchmaker training center will look like when completed. It will be the only technical school in the country dedicated exclusively for US veterans.

Middletown, DE - March 2015 - A home for the Veterans Watchmaker Initiative has been found.

After reading a news article on the Initiative, a private family in Middletown, Delaware, donated a four-acre property along US Rt. 301 as a site for the Watchmaker training facility.

The town of Middletown has approved the project and has given the go-ahead for the project to proceed. The Town has also agreed to underwrite power, water and sewer services to the Initiative.

New Lives Through Watchmaking --
Our Story

courtesy of Shirley Min
and WHYY-TV, Philadelphia

The Veterans Watchmaker Initiative Inc., with outstanding support from New Castle County, DE, government, has acquired a 3,000 square foot facility as the initial home for the Veterans Watchmaker Initiative. The facility, a former Emergency Medical Technician-Paramedic (EMT) base, is located on a three acre property in Odessa, Delaware.

VWI's first students will be trained at the facility beginning later this Spring. Those Watch Technician Program graduates will then begin the first phase of their professional development repairing watches for individual and watch industry customers.

Plans for the proposed full Veterans Watchmaker Initiative Technical Center are still in progress for an existing property in Middletown, DE.

Historical Connections

It's completely fitting that the VWI Service Center should be located in Odessa - which was the seat of horology in Colonial Delaware.

We're planning a Grand Opening ceremony. We'll keep you up to date.

WDEL Highlights Veterans Watchmaker Initiative

The word is getting out. The Veterans Watchmaker Initiative is here and it's for real. WDEL AM & FM News / Talk Radio in Wilmingon is the latest major media outlet to recognize the Watchmaker Initiative.

The station recently ran a rather long story on the Initiative, its background and its objectives entitled "Veterans 'make time' for new career.

At right: Sam Cannan, Watchmaker Initiative CEO, and Amy Cherry, Assistant News Director, WDEL AM & FM, Wilmington, DE.

Freilich Donates Entire Jewelery Store

After operating in the Bronx, New York, for nearly 100 years Freilich Jewelers was going out of business. But rather than disposing of the store piecemeal, owner Alan Freilich donated the operating contents of his store to the VWI - cabinets, display cases and electronics - lock, stock and barrel ...out to the walls.

The very much appreciated donation is now in storage awaiting construction of the Watchmaker Initiative's permanent facility, where it will be re-assembled as a training work place and retail outlet for the watches VWI students build and repair as part of their studies and new professions.

At right: Before and after images of the Freilich Jewelers donation in the Bronx, New York. Watchmaker Initiative crews and volunteers moved the store in four truck loads.

VWI Featured on WJBR Radio 'Focus on Delaware Valley'

Sam Cannan, VWI; left, and Catey Hill, WJBR Radio

Turn on the radio! Better yet, Click here for an interview with Catey Hill, Community Relations Manager for Wilmington's WJBR Radio (99.5 FM), Sam Cannan, VWI CEO, and Rick Hofmann, VWI Communications Officer.

The half-hour interview on the background and future plans for the Veterans Watchmaker Initiative was broadcast at 6:30 Am Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016.

Temp Buildings
Moved to Delaware

Transport crews from Rybold Homes, Bear, Delaware, have successfully transported all three donated temporary buildings from their original site in Folcroft, PA. to the Reybold holding yard in Bear, Delaware.

Upon receipt of permits from the Delaware Department of Transportation the buildings will be moved to the Veterans Watchmaker Initiative site in Middletown.

Goodwill Makes First Watch Donation

Goodwill of Delaware and Delaware County receives a lot of watches at its donation centers. Many don't work.

But those non-functioning watches are being put to good use as practice materials for the Veterans Watchmaker Initiative.

The watchmaker students will repair the watches as part of their training. The watches will then be sold to help support the program.

Photo: Colleen Morrone, left; President of Goodwill of Delaware and Delaware County; and James Pritchett, far right, Goodwill's Director of Retail Sales, look on while VWI CEO and master Watchmaker Sam Cannan examines a few of several hundred watches in the Goodwill donation.


Veterans Watchmaker Initiative    307 N. 6th Street, Odessa, DE 19730
Mail to: Veterans Watchmaker Initiative
Box 329   Little Creek, DE 19961

Unless otherwise noted, all text, images and video on this site are
Copyright the Veterans Watchmaker Initiative. All rights reserved.