LIMA, Ohio (WDTN) — David Bates stands over a glowing piece of steel, delivering mallet blows one after another.

“What I just put in there was a bar of 1084 high carbon steel.” Bates says, “It’s about six inches by one inch by a quarter inch thick.”

A non-descript block of steel, worthless in it’s initial state, really nothing more than a paperweight, but there is a beautiful creation that follows of steel and soul.

With each swing of the mallet, it’s another step in healing. An 1,800 degree kiln softens the steel. It also softens his anger.

“I’m taking my pent up frustration, my rage and anger,” Bates says, “and I’m putting it into something that someone is going to be able to use for something good, use it in their everyday life like hunting or something along those lines.”

The Army trained Bates to find the bad guy in what he calls “An adult game of hide and seek”. Three tours in Iraq serving in the First Cavalry left him with something, however, the Army did not train him for, PTSD.

Bates admits, “I couldn’t go to social events. I couldn’t go to the kids’ ballet. I couldn’t do stuff like this because I had a legitimate fear of crowds.”

His relationships at home were struggling, too. Wanting to be a better husband and a better dad, Bates went to the Dayton VA for help. He started to grind down the figurative steel bars he had erected around himself, then he found his purpose in, of all things, a YouTube video.

Bates says, “I started doing this for me, mid-2016 when I was watching an episode of ‘Forest Fire’. I am like, ‘I can do that.’ I went from making little railroad spike letter openers to artwork to making knives.”

His wife noticed. Other veterans did, too, and everyone was impressed. Bates, who had struggled to hold even a simple conversation before, now opened his shop in Lima, OH to other veterans, many of whom, like him, were struggling with PTSD.

“We created ‘Warrior’s Way’,” Bates says, adding, “That’s when we started doing classes, five people at a time. We’ve has a nine person class. We’ve had 25 people at once in this building making knives.”

Warrior’s Way is a non-profit geared toward helping veterans as well as first responders and youth.

Six years after discharging from the Army, Bates has found a new way to serve in a role he reluctantly admits, perhaps, has a greater purpose than his military service.

In retrospect, Bates says “It’s just crazy seeing how far I’ve come from where I started to now and the people that this program has had an impact on.”

You can learn more about the Warrior’s Way organization by visiting their website here.