A California farmer, working with California State University at San Marcos, has made national news with a farm program designed to help veterans readjust into civilian life. In addition to providing valuable job experience, the program helps soldiers deal with the trauma of war.
Colin Archepley, an Iraq War veteran, manages the farm program with support from both the local university and local Marine bases. The six-week program combines therapy, both physical and psychological, with job training and managerial instruction.
“They were trained to use rifles and coordinate air strikes, not operate businesses,” Archepley said of the soldiers in his program. “But we tap into the leadership skills they’ve obtained in the military.”
The veterans program, supporters say, will build on the skills and discipline learned in combat. In addition, agricultural work itself can be therapeutic to some soldiers. According to an officer in the North Dakota branch of the American Legion, “Not everybody is made to sit behind a desk. With something like this, you’re out in the country, safe, not in a crowd feeling hassled.” The program, specifically its job training elements, can also help veterans readjust to civilian life. According to a Veteran Administrations study, WWII veterans who went into agriculture had significantly lower rates of alcoholism than their fellow soldiers did.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer