My name is Dennis, I am a 16 year, 3 combat tour, Marine Corps Veteran. As many know, some veterans come back different. Some of us have physical injuries, some have invisible ones, and some of us have both. It can also be very daunting for a returning veteran that is going through the VA system as well. As a Disabled Veteran myself I have been down this path and I understand the stress level it can have on a veteran and his or her family. In my search to find something that could be a safe and therapeutic outlet, I had never imagined it would be in my own backyard. Many combat veterans do not feel comfortable in areas they are not familiar with. Some do not feel safe in crowds or with people they don’t know. One day I just started to dig a garden in my backyard. That grew into a much larger garden. The next step was starting a flock of chickens. Raising chickens is an amazing experience and is a beautiful thing to enjoy with family. I also started beekeeping, raising turtles, raising our own turkeys for the holidays, aquaculture and the list just keeps going on and on. Without even noticing it I realized one day how good I felt. How much of the stress of dealing with PTSD and constant pain had become the second or third thing I was thinking about rather than always being the first. Caring for animals and tending to the garden made me smile. Trust me when I say how much of a big deal it is to have a smile on my face again. I want to make that smile possible to other veterans that struggle with the same issues. This is why I created Healing Veterans Through Backyard Agriculture.
We have 22 Veterans committing suicide every single day. Having an outlet is of the upmost importance. The keeping of animals and tending a garden are proven to be very therapeutic and provide a large sense of self-worth. For a veteran it can give them a sense that something needs them to be here. This single thought could save a life. The potential impact is huge and truly priceless. Even if we make an impact in the life of one veteran every week that could be saving 52 lives in one year! That is a school bus full of people! The Impact is huge and something anyone should be proud to contribute to. It also causes the ripple effect. One that changes the mind of the veteran but this can also cause a positive impact within their family as well. It’s amazing to show your spouse and children or your family what you’ve been working on and to share in the positive experience together.