Trading Rifles for Shovels: Growing Veterans
Around Veterans Day last month we had the opportunity to Catch up with Growing Veterans. Growing Veterans is an organization founded on the principle to end the isolation that leads to veteran suicide. They allow veterans returning home to trade guns for garden tools, bullets for seeds, and use their hands to create new roots. They do this through employment, internships and work-study for veterans to work on their certified organic farm.
Military veterans work along side others and members of the community to grow a plethora of organic produce. Beyond donating to local food banks with each harvest, Growing Veterans offers peer support training and are building a community for veterans to be accepted.
An Interview with Sean
Growing Veterans Executive director, Sean Dalgram, took time to discuss the harsh realities of working in a war zone. Responding to the events of 9/11, Sean enlisted in the Air Force as a Security Airmen. He soon found himself in Iraq in 2005. When asked to describe what he did oversea, Sean puts it,
“Basically, responding to anywhere something went - BOOM!”
Even though the situation was terrifying for Sean he did not spend the proper time to process everything that was happening so quickly. Instead, like many Veterans, Sean turned to drinking and suppressing the chaotic experience he had fighting for our country. Upon returning to the United States, a common response Sean gave was “Everything is fine” when someone showed concern and he would move on.
Sean soon felt isolated and lonely, for him he thought this was how veterans handled the return home. It was hard to for him to connect with people that understood the experiences he just went through. After recognizing people that cared for him were truly concerned about him. He decided to seek help. And he found it – working along side other veterans on an organic farm in Washington state, the way Sean puts it,
“We traded rifles for shovels and bullets for seeds.”
Finding Your Crew
Showing up when life challenges us with conflict can test our commitment to w hat really matters, our growth. Sean showed up to Growing Veterans and continues to this day. He found his people. Brothers and sisters that have had similar experiences as him, to share stories with, find connection and learn from mentors. His best advice is
“Admit that there is something going on, that you have these unique experiences and find people you can relate to then talk about those experiences.”
Are you interested in getting involved?
Follow this link to Growing Veterans - Get Involved page. They accept donations, offer online forums to stay connected and accept volunteers to work on the farm.
If you are a Veteran seeking help – Veterans Crisis Hotline.
Brian Z - Trayvax Content Creator