Too many soldiers return from being on the front lines in Iraq, Afghanistan, and find it very difficult to fit back into civilian life. There are not enough programs to help ease them back into life as it should be, and they are often left on their own to cope. Their situation is not helpful when they come home to a country in economic shambles. Many experience homelessness, joblessness and get little support. (Welcome back!) It’s pitiful, the way these things are.
Organic farming programs for returning vets
However, on the bright side (when I heard about this today, it just made my day) there are several organic farming programs that take in returning soldiers and teach them the basics of organic farming so that they can learn how to earn a living whilst integrating back into civilian life.
Farming is a good transition from the front lines: physical, engaging work, teamwork…all of the skills they have learned being put to use in civilian society.
There’s something calming about working the soil, tending to plants. Nothing feels quite like seeing a plant your nurtured and raised bear crops that nourish your family and others. It’s therapeutic for anyone. Since too many vets return with post-traumatic stress disorder and a whole host of other issues from their experiences, such work can be very comforting, helping ease the transition.
Now this isn’t just a feel-good hippy program. Farming is extremely important, and it’s becoming clear that with the way farming is today, it is not sustainable. These soldiers that protected our safety and freedom are also going to nourish us and protect our food supply.
A safe, stable food supply is as much of a national security issue as fighting terrorists.
Why organic farming?
Organic farming is growing in popularity and can have many benefits over conventional farming.
The obvious benefit is that no pesticides are used, so people don’t have to worry about ingesting unwanted chemicals. Native plants and animals suffer from pesticides as well.
Organic farming can also help improve biodiversity. Rather than conventional monoculture, where a single crops in grown over thousands of acres, organic farming is smaller scale, and many different species of crop may be integrated on the same plot. This biodiversity of plants, attracts many different kinds of bugs, some beneficial some harmful, but not all of these plants have the same predators; thus, the organic crops have been shown to fare better against pests without using any pesticides.
There is also no question of dealing with the issues surrounding GM foods.
How you can help…
Share a link with a soldier friend, or donate to one of the many organic farming scholarships to support the tuition for a returning vet.
Here is a link to an organization about organic farming for vets.
Source: NY Times
Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons by vincealongi