One of the toughest parts of being a combat veteran may come as a surprise to some of us out there. It actually can be the period when a soldier retires and returns home to everyday life as a civilian – essentially another “battle” for someone whose identity was previously in uniform.
Fortunately, there’s someone out there who cares, understands, and is working to help. Road Trip host Marc Istook headed out to Jacksonville, Florida to visit Adam Burke’s Veteran’s Farm, which was started in 2009, and helps these soldiers in a uniquely suited manner, offering opportunities for growth and transition.
Burke explains that when soldiers come back from war, they struggle with seemingly simple things, such a being able to sleep at night or find things to keep themselves busy around the house, as well as reoccurring thoughts of past combat.
Burke knows all too well about this: He himself is a decorated Army Veteran -- and one who has adopted the concept of horticulture therapy to help his peers. “Getting your hands dirty” is a “healing lifestyle,” he notes. His resulting idea of a place to help soldiers refocus after retirement earned him the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation’s second-highest civilian honor, awarded by President Obama.
To date the Farm has helped about 30 struggling combat veterans rebuild their lives, using farming as a therapeutic tool for recovery. The soldiers grow crops ranging from peppers to blueberries, work with livestock, and even take on duties such as writing business plans.
Veteran Steve Ellsberry, who is the farm manager for the establishment, claims the Farm has, essentially, reshaped his post-combat life. “I took shrapnel from the head all the way down to my ankles,” he explained of his service in Afghanistan. “I didn’t realize the toll it took on my body. The Veterans Farm has brought more stability to me than I ever thought it would do.”
If you’d like more information about the Veterans Farm, visit here. And be sure to tune in for our next episode in the ongoing Road Trip series on Ram Country!