From Healing to Handcrafted
Story and Photos by Christine Craddock
Both Northern Virginia natives – Josh from Fairfax County and his wife Erica from Prince William – the Tredinnicks met in the eighth grade while attending Emmanuel Christian School in Manassas. If you met them today, you could imagine the two strikingly opposite personalities bonding them together instantly. Josh is quiet, behind-the-scenes, with an easy smile, while Erica’s outspoken but with a kind and friendly demeanor that makes her easy to get to know.
“We never did things the easy way,” say the Tredinnicks, who live in Bristow. They married and had children while they were very young. About a year and a half into their marriage, Josh expressed a desire to join the military. He was unable to ignore the call to serve any longer. But while Josh was confident this is what he wanted, Erica was reluctant. Growing up the daughter of a lifetime civil servant provided her the knowledge of the sacrifice this type of career involves. “My dad loved being a police officer,” Erica says, “but it’s not glamorous or easy and can be terrifying at times.” While at the time she wasn’t sure this was the right decision, looking back now she wouldn’t change it.
The experience of Josh’s Army career was a profound, life-changing one for the family. “It made us cling to each other; it grew him into a family man, a soldier, and our hero,” said Erica.
When he completed boot camp, Josh and Erica packed up their two kids (at the time) under two, and left Virginia and their families for the first time. They headed to Fort Drum, New York, where they quickly found another kind of family with Army friends; people they are still close with to this day. Josh deployed to Afghanistan in 2009 and Erica and the kids headed back to Virginia, which ended up being a real blessing.
During his deployment, Josh was on foot patrol when an explosion went off under him. The improvised explosive device threw him over top of the vehicle he had been riding in, with a hard landing on the other side. He suffered a broken hip, broken back, a traumatic brain injury, and several other injuries.
Josh was sent to Walter Reed where he underwent surgery and began a healing process that took almost a year. “Recovery isn’t quick but I did everything I could to speed it up as I wanted to return to duty and get back to work,” says Josh. While he wasn’t able to deploy again like he wished, he was able to return to Fort Drum. But ultimately, after the realization that his injuries had rendered him mentally and physically changed, he decided that retiring from the military was the right thing to do. It was also one of the hardest decisions he had to make.
After leaving the military, Josh finished college and began searching for a career that made him feel the kind of pride and honor he felt being in the Army. He didn’t have much luck. Confounding his search was the fact that he was still struggling with not being the same person he was before the injury. “It affected all aspects of my life,” he says.
Erica says that Josh’s recovery was a long and trying road filled with many life lessons. The whole family came to realize that resilience was crucial for them to heal together. “When raising kids and trying to assist Josh in finding a new normal, you have to be willing to accept the bumps in the road and know that there’s always something to be grateful for,” she says. Josh’s sacrifice and determination serves as an awesome example for their sons, 14-year-old Mason, 13-year-old Micah, and 9-year-old Miles.
After trying out a few jobs here and there, Josh had the opportunity to train with Dog Tag Bakery, an organization whose mission is to “build a bridge to employment and a productive civilian life for veterans and military families that have served our country so well.” The fellowship program exposes veterans to five months of education from Georgetown University, as well as real life work experience. The insight from this experience was invaluable, says Josh.
Josh began to envision what it would look like for him to own a business and be his own boss. “Starting a business as your sole source of income is scary and takes sacrifice from everyone involved,” he says. Woodworking had always been a hobby for him but now he began to hone his talent and create his own designs. The ability to work with his hands and transform a raw material into something of value that he was proud to put his name on began the family business they named J Tred Woodworking.
“I found that working with my hands and creating something of beauty from simple, raw materials gives me a sense of accomplishment that is truly the best form of therapy. My love for the military and our country flows directly into every custom flag and sign I create.” Josh Tredinnick
Giving credit to his wife and their three boys for their support and love, Josh explains that Erica keeps them all in line while putting just as much time into the business as he does. “She is strong in all the ways I am not and I surely couldn’t do this without her,” explains Josh. Erica echoes this sentiment, saying “his strengths are my weaknesses and vice versa.”
J Tred Woodworking started slowly and built its customer base through local vendor and craft shows. As the business grew, so did the number of shows, customers, and woodworking designs. The momentum was building rapidly but then the challenges of the pandemic caused them to have to pivot. Without in-person shows and events, Erica and Josh launched the J Tred Woodworking website. They also began reaching out to other local businesses in an effort to get their designs in front of customers in different ways. One example is their relationship with The Farm Brewery at Broad Run. Erica asked if J Tred Woodworking could donate a flag to be featured on a wall in the brewhouse. This led to a partnership allowing J Tred Woodworking to sell its designs at the brewery. But this is just one way the community has supported this veteran and his family. “We have the best customers around,” says Erica.
“I am glad that Josh has followed his dreams and started this business,” says Erica. J Tred Woodworking recently hit 3000 followers on Facebook and continues to create designs for families to treasure as a keepsake for years to come. Handmade, rustic, framed wood flags are dedicated to first responders, patriotic Americans, or military branches, and the J Tred Old Dominion collection is a one-of-a-kind tribute to Virginia, available in shadow box or signature design. Signs are also created by category: bathroom, dog, faith, family, funny, home, inspirational, kitchen, love, and parenting. J Tred’s Instagram feed always features new designs available for purchase.
Add J Tred Woodworking on Facebook and Instagram and check out jtredwoodworking.com to see which design you need in your home and which designs would make great gifts for friends and family. It’s the perfect way to support this hardworking, inspiring veteran family.
What Veterans Day means to me:
I am thankful for the service and sacrifice made by those who have served and who are serving. I am incredibly grateful for those who choose to defend our country. Those men are the strongest, most hilarious, hard working warriors out there.
Mason, Micah, and Miles:
Our dad being a veteran means he was brave and a warrior. It’s important to us because he is the best example of a patriot and that’s how we all want to be when we grow up. We’re grateful our dad is a veteran because he has always been there for us and has worked hard to teach us and give us the best.