Submitted by GRuB
Many veterans today are leaving service missing three important components of healthy living: a clear purpose, a solid sense of identity and strong roots in community. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, an average of 22 veterans commit suicide daily while only 1/3 of veterans access VA services. This means we as veterans and community need to step up to fill the gap in support.
Current presidential candidates are being asked, “If elected, what are you going to do for our veterans?” We ask, “What is our community going to do for veterans?” The duty to welcome veterans home cannot fall on the shoulders of one individual, or one family. It takes a community walking shoulder to shoulder in support of healthy transition to truly welcome our veterans “Home”.
Our service members, for better or worse, have derived great strength and defended our country, by falling in line. Upon their transition from service, the isolation of standing out, or having no line to fall in, shakes many to the core. This time of transition challenges their sense of identity; of the person they were trained to be. Transitioning service members have earned a standing invitation from the community to join our ranks, to re-humanize and establish a new identity, one that can fit them today, given everywhere they’ve been and all they’ve accomplished.
That’s where Victory Farmers come in. With your support, we can become the welcome wagon of our community.
Since our early beginnings with “Boots 2 Roots” in August of 2014, the Victory Farmers have experienced rapid growth. Over the past 12 months we have:
- Engaged 118 veterans, active duty and family members
- Inspired 71 volunteers.
- Accumulated 2679.25 hours of volunteer service for an average of 37.73 hours per volunteer (National Standard rate for volunteer service is $23.07 per hour. Total: $61,810.29 in volunteer service).
- Facilitated 500 community connections through events, outdoor experiences and vegetable garden builds.
- Built over 150 backyard vegetable gardens with low-income families and various organizations.
- Transformed a half acre urban space into a small scale farm, produced and donated over 1,200 pounds of food to food insecure members of our community
We have accomplished all of this without a paid full time staff member on a budget of $7,000.00.
- Washington State has the 6th highest veteran population concentration in the United States
- Thurston County has the 2nd highest projected veteran population growth rate through 2020. 2nd only to our neighbors to the north, Pierce County.
Combined, the Pew Research Center in their 2011 report, “The Military-Civilian Gap”, and a 2015 Annals of Epidemiology study find that:
- Post-9/11 veterans have a suicide rate 50% higher than the rate among civilians with similar demographic characteristics;
- 44% of post-9/11 veterans reported that readjustment to civilian life was difficult;
- Nearly half of all post-9/11 veterans said they experienced strained relationships with family since leaving the military;
- Post-9/11 veterans experienced high unemployment rates (11.5% unemployed in 2010);
- Nearly 4 in 10 post-9/11 veterans said they experienced post-traumatic stress, whether diagnosed or not; and
- 1 in 3 (32%) of post-9/11 veterans said they sometimes felt they didn’t care about anything.
Imagine what we can do with your support. We are asking you to join us on the “Road to Victory”. Over the next two years, we plan to:
- Improve Victory Farm infrastructure
- Expand fruit and vegetable production both on Victory Farm and a new 1-acre parcel we call “Not-Alot-of-Acres Farm”
- Train veteran guides in: Council Practice, Conflict Mediation, GRuB communication and multicultural tools workshops, ASIST Suicide Intervention, and The Wilderness Rites of Passage model
- Provide small scale urban agriculture training for veterans and their families
- Send veterans across the threshold on their own Wilderness Quests
- Hire additional veteran staff
To learn more about the Victory Farmers visit them online. You can support the group through their Commit Change site here. The Victory Farmers empower veterans, active duty service members and their families to establish strong roots in community through continued service, peer to peer support, and a deeper connection with the natural world. We are a program of GRuB, in partnership with Growing Veterans.
Together, we are welcoming veterans home, growing good food and building community.