For veterans coming back home after their tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, the transition back to normal life can often be daunting. In fact, in 2012, the U.S. Department of Labor released a report stating that returning veterans face an unemployment rate of 9.9 percent. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), approximately half of the country’s active farmers will be retiring over the next decade.
Ground Operations: Battlefields to Farmfields is a new documentary produced by Dulaine Ellis that tells the story of Veterans Farm, an organic farm founded by Sergeant Adam Burke, where the mission is to “help disabled combat veterans reintegrate back into society through the use of horticulture therapy, while working together in a relaxed, open environment.”
Burke found that veterans could be the answer to the problem of so many farmers facing retirement over the next ten years. By giving them the chance to learn agricultural trades, vets can play an important role in food security and sustainability in the U.S. In addition, according to a 2012 study by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, approximately 30 percent of war veterans suffer from some form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Hands-on farming work has a therapeutic component that helps to treat the symptoms of PTSD. According to Burke, “It takes a different approach to the mind set of a veteran who needs to get out, taking it literally. Instead of keeping everything in your head and dwelling on it, you begin to take it all outside in the open air.”
According to the film’s press release, “In a world full of problems, Ground Operations is a story about solutions.”