For many veterans, the switch from missions and war to civilian life can be daunting and lonely. In 2013, Veteran John Mahshie started the Veteran’s Healing Farm in Hendersonville, Tennessee to address the issue.
He started this community initiative after feeling alone and isolated after leaving the Air Force in 2008.
From Military to Home
“The military is very good at clearly defining a mission. Where in the civilian world, when you transition out of the military you have to discover yourself and ask yourself the question ‘what is it that I want to do?'” Mahshie said in an interview with People.
The mission was simple: create an environment for veterans to build a sense of community.
According to their official website, the “mission is to serve our nation’s veterans by growing and donating high-quality fruits, vegetables, and flower bouquets to veterans and their caregivers free of charge. Additionally, we support veterans by offering workshops on innovative gardening techniques and foster a thriving micro-community of veterans and civilians who build deep friendships and cultivate emotional, physical, and spiritual health.”
The Importance of Building a Veteran Community
Without proper assistance, however, many veterans face issues when returning back home. This can be anything from homelessness, depression, suicide, divorce and substance abuse.
For many veterans, the lack of conversation and understanding makes this adjustment and transition so difficult. That’s why creating a like-minded community is so important.
“Having a place that provides the opportunity for people to be vulnerable and authentic and honest, these are all things that are incredibly helpful in that process,” Mahshie said.
Mahshie also wants veterans to rely on each other in moments of need because the alternative can be really saddening.
There is about 22 veteran suicides in America each day, according to ABC News in 2019.
Altogether, non-profit organizations such as the Healing Farm help to not only provide community, but also to raise awareness for the struggles a veteran can face.
The goal for Mahshie is to eventually create an online bootcamp for vets to access. Moreover, the starting point right now is recording their workshops.
“This online tool will help us construct an open-source, turnkey solution, designed to equip veterans nationwide with the ability to replicate our farm community and produce donation programs throughout the country,” according to Veteran’s Healing Farm website.