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

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid