Many veterans with PTSD find themselves on permanent psychotropic medication regimes that make them feel unwell, and there are often few alternatives offered to help manage their mental issues and depression. One former Army sergeant, however, is giving his fellow vets from Middle East conflicts a place to work through their issues in a productive way…
…on a farm!
Returning to his family farm when he retired from his stint in Iraq with PTSD and brain trauma, Adam Burke realized that the regular tasks and bucolic atmosphere of the farm created an ideal environment for managing and working through his post-traumatic stress. After noticing an improvement in his own condition in 2009, he decided to offer the same opportunity to his fellow vets. In 2010, the farm expanded across several locations.
Burke was recognized for his work helping his fellow veterans in President Obama’s Presidential Citizens Medal selections in 2012. Along with other recipients, the president noted that his efforts were a chance for others to be inspired to “look for opportunities to better serve our communities and our country.”
The farm began by growing blueberries and blackberries, but it now has a range of crops and animals, including Longhorn cattle. Between 10 and 15 vets work at each of three separate locations to tend the farm’s production.
While many of the major issues these vets face involve the mental damage caused by violent conflict, the farm also helps those with physical disabilities, making amendments to farming practice to allow a range of people to work there. For example, container planting allows those vets who need to use wheelchairs to tend the blueberries.
As well as offering vets a chance to stay positive and contribute, work on the farm enables them to socialize and form friendships with others who know what they have experienced. This helps to prevent depression and stave off issues such as substance dependency.
Adam Burke’s farm is a great example of an individual’s ideas and actions making a difference. But his farm can only help so many people. Working together, we need to help all of our brave vets who come home in need.