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From Battlefields To Farmlands

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From Battlefields To Farmlands

Healing fields. Thatís what some U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan or Iraq are dreaming about, ahead of their return home. “I think the thought, the yearning of it gives them peace,” Michael O’Gorman, the founder and executive director of the Farmer-Veteran Coalition, told me (see video interview below). Meanwhile, “the agricultural community is so in need of them: there are eight times more farmers over the age of 65 as under 35,” he added.

Like many organizations out there, the Farmer-Veteran Coalition is determined that the tragedy endured by Vietnam vets, who came home to nothing and to no one, does not repeat itself — they still make the bulk of the 300,000 homeless veterans in the country. Today, 35 percent of all vets are unemployed. To more and more people (farmers and vets alike), transitioning from the military to the farm seems an obvious and relatively seamless way to ease back into civilian life. The work is physically demanding and the mission is clear: providing food security for American communities by growing the local food supply.

Moreover, the enlistment rate among young adults in rural America is significantly higher than in urban areas, according to a study released in 2006 by the Carsey Institute, a think tank at the University of New Hampshire. A sobering indicator is the discrepancy between the mortality rate for soldiers from rural America and the mortality rate for soldiers from metropolitan areas: the former is 60 percent higher.

Michael O’Gorman and his crew have already helped about 100 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans on their path to a life of farming, including half-a-dozen wounded soldiers who made it back to their family farms. They are currently supporting about another 100 of them, and they keep hearing from more every day.

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Laetitia Mailhes

Laetitia Mailhes is a French-born journalist. After many years as the technology and innovation correspondent of the French "Financial Times" in San Francisco, she decided to focus on what truly matters to her: sustainable food and farming. Find more articles and videos on her blog, The Green Plate Blog.

25 comments

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10:18AM PST on Nov 17, 2011

ty

3:11AM PST on Nov 16, 2011

Yes thanks.

1:13AM PST on Nov 16, 2011

Il ya quelques jours, la décision de la Cour de révision de Padoue, qui a annulé le décret par lequel le GIPDoudoune Moncler

6:23AM PST on Nov 15, 2011

A very positive change

5:14AM PST on Nov 13, 2011

I will help to heal and give them a purpose in life again.

12:02PM PST on Nov 12, 2011

wonderful---being close to nature is so healing and they certainly seem to be needed.

11:49PM PST on Nov 11, 2011

sounds like a good idea

7:20PM PST on Nov 11, 2011

A different perspective and a viable one.

6:41PM PST on Nov 11, 2011

Thanks Laetitia!~

2:13PM PST on Nov 11, 2011

Glad to hear good news, especially today. Thank you.

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