Military Veterans Who Farm: Finding Each Other Means Finding the Missing Mission and Community.
"Read Tribe." Heads nodded all over the room when two military veterans from Texas-based Farmers Assisting Returning Military—FARM—made that suggestion to a full room at Southern SAWG's annual gathering in Lexington last week. I immediately reserved one of the copies available in many formats at the wonderful Lexington Public Library.
Tribe's subtitle: "On Homecoming and Belonging." FARM's tagline: "The power of community." The tagline of North Carolina-based Veterans Healing Farm: "Cultivating Life Through Community."
John Mahsie, an Air Force vet who founded Veterans Healing Farm, told the group, "Getting out of the military leaves two big gaps: a loss of community and a loss of mission. And society is not all that patient with people who are trying to figure things out." For the two veterans with FARM, the cost of those losses include 11 suicides among the returned veterans in their unit.
Around the country veterans are finding a new mission and new community in the demanding work of farming, growing food, and feeding others. The Farmer Veterans Coalition is a national nonprofit group working in support of veterans in agriculture. The FVC includes Homegrown by Heroes, a marketing program the Kentucky Department of Agriculture launched that now operates in many states.