The Delaware Veterans Watchmaker Initiative welcomed nine new students Sept. 12, its second cadre since the unique school began in September 2017.

Students from three military branches and four states, including Delaware, New Jersey, California and Colorado, were issued blue beginner’s smocks as they began for some what will be two years of increasingly challenging training from watch and jewelry repair to being able to fabricate the minute, delicate components of watches and other timepieces.

The Veterans Watchmaker Initiative Inc. officially opened in Odessa in September 2017 in a former EMT facility slated for demolition and leased from New Castle County government for $1 a year. It is the only school of its kind in the U.S., serving the nation’s honorably discharged veterans with life changing opportunities in a lucrative field of specialization.

VWI is privately funded. The faculty includes retired watchmakers who volunteer their time and expertise, making the program free of charge for disabled veterans. It depends on grants and donations of equipment from the watchmaking industry and corporate and private donations with every dollar going directly to the program, according to Sam Cannan, chairman and co-founder. Volunteer labor by local veterans and other community volunteers using donated material have converted former garage bays to classrooms. By watchmaking industry standards, VWI is first-class training facility, according to Mr. Cannan, a retired Swiss-trained master watchmaker who has directed schools in other states.

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