My latest novel, Unwanted Heroes, highlights how many of our war veterans fail to cope with returning to civilian life and the fast-developing urban centers in particular.
Colin Archipley, a decorated Marine Corps infantry sergeant and his wife, Karen, run a small, organic farm, Archis Acres, near Valley Center, California, where they offer a program called: Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training (VSAT). The idea is to use agriculture as a transitional period between army/marines and civilian life.
In addition to learning how to work the land in a sustainable way, the men and women receive lectures about various niche business options for the modern small-holdings farmer. Their goal is to revitalize the rural farming industry by providing tools for young people who understand discipline and hard work.
There are two challenges being addressed here. One is the reabsorption of soldiers into civilian life, and the other is to provide a meaningful and economically viable option for the returning soldier.
Even if these young men and women do not continue to work as farmers, the work itself can be extremely grounding. On my kibbutz, (an intentional community) we used to bring groups of children, traumatized from bombings and other acts of terror, to the kibbutz and they would help us make bricks out of a clay-like material that would later be used for experiments in alternative building. It was clear how calming and grounding such work could be.
Archi’s Acres is a great program, offering the opportunity for those who gave years of their life in service to find a meaningful and sustainable life. If you would like to consider a small gift to help fund the initiative, please click here. Helping turn swords into plowshares is a positive step forward.
Alon Shalev writes social justice-themed novels and YA epic fantasy. He swears there is a connection. His latest books include: Unwanted Heroes and At The Walls Of Galbrieth. Alon tweets at @alonshalevsf and @elfwriter.