News / USA

Farm Eases Transition from Military to US Civilian Life

Former Marine works to save fellow veterans from homelessness and unemployment

After three tours of duty in Iraq, Marine Sgt. Colin Archipley established Archi's Acres, which helps ease combat veterans back into society in a productive way.
After three tours of duty in Iraq, Marine Sgt. Colin Archipley established Archi's Acres, which helps ease combat veterans back into society in a productive way.

Multimedia

Audio
Jan Sluizer

For thousands of U.S. troops, the transition from the military to civilian life is not an easy one. Veterans have a 35 percent unemployment rate, and estimates are that more than 100,000 are homeless at some point. The government offers programs to help veterans, and many private organizations provide assistance as well. One of those efforts is called Archi's Acres, a groundbreaking program on a farm in southern California.

Nuturing combat veterans

After three tours of duty in Iraq, Marine Sgt. Colin Archipley was ready to return to civilian life. He and his wife, Karen, bought a farm in southern California and started to produce organic, hydroponic crops. Instead of being planted in soil, their produce is nurtured in pure, filtered water.

In addition to basil, loose leaf lettuce and tomatoes, Archi's Acres nurtures combat veterans. Archipley is growing what he sees as the next generation of agricultural entrepreneurs.

Karen says her husband wanted to share the peace he'd found on the farm with his former comrades. "Colin started working with the trees and the plants and realized how amazing that was for his own healing," she says. "He started talking with the people he served with and they were re-enlisting not because they necessarily wanted to but because they couldn't feed themselves, that's when we turned around as a couple and said, 'We can make a difference here. That's not fair.'"

After his third tour in Iraq, Corey Pollard, 26, came to Archi's Acres to learn new skills which will help him adjust to civilian life.
After his third tour in Iraq, Corey Pollard, 26, came to Archi's Acres to learn new skills which will help him adjust to civilian life.

Moving to the private sector

So the Archipleys worked with the local Veteran Administration's office to help returning troops translate the leadership skills they learned in the military to the private sector.

"We have these very young leaders that, with just some new hands-on skills, some new training, can make very productive workers and very efficient leaders," says Colin Archipley.

Corey Pollard, 26, is one of the vets acquiring those new hands-on skills. In 2005, after his third tour in Iraq and uncertain about what to do with his life, he checked out the program at Archi's Acres at the suggestion of a platoon mate. He liked that it was run by a fellow Marine and how it focused on easing combat veterans back into society in a productive way.

"I'm thinking about starting my own operation because once you've been here for a while, you start to pick up on things and you start to know how little things work," says Pollard, who believes the program has benefited him. "I'm not college educated, so just learning some kind of skill I can use in the future, that's good for me."

Former Marine Sgt. Colin Archipley will teach agriculture skills while his wife Karen, a former fashion designer, will teach marketing to US veterans as well as those who are preparing to leave military service.
Former Marine Sgt. Colin Archipley will teach agriculture skills while his wife Karen, a former fashion designer, will teach marketing to US veterans as well as those who are preparing to leave military service.

Expanded program

In January, Colin Archipley expands his program to include active military personnel who are winding up their service. Archipley notes that many veterans suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, made worse when they can't get jobs and find themselves homeless. He believes that if service personnel spend their last few months in the military learning skills which can land them a job, the high rate of PTSD will drop.

"Working with the active-duty military people means that we are going to be able to train them and get them into that meaningful work environment before they start seeing those symptoms," he says. "And I'm hoping that we not only generate new farmers and new entrepreneurs, new business owners and get these guys employed, but that we curb some of those signs of PTSD diagnosis and be proactive in that effort."

In his new six-week course, Archipley will teach agriculture skills - from planting to harvest. Karen, a former fashion designer, will teach marketing. Educators from the Small Business Administration are also involved. They will offer classes on cash flow projections, fundamentals of entrepreneurship, resume writing and how to build a business plan around a farming operation.

Archipley doesn't expect his graduates to have any problems finding work because the jobs are already out there.

"We think the veteran community is perfect to fill in these jobs where growers are reaching retirement and no one's filling their spots, or to learn the equipment so that they can distribute it throughout the United states and they can feel the satisfaction of being part of an entity that feeds America."

Archipley hopes to expand his program even further, to serve veterans on the East Coast. He also plans to put the six-week seminar online, so that anyone in the military, anywhere, can start preparing for a productive life as a civilian.

You May Like

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More