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 Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land In French Port

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching 'Fortress Europe' More

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

New Hints That Dark Matter Exists

New evidence from International Space Station hints at existence of dark matter and dark energy 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.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid