SEAGOVILLE, Texas -- The brotherhood of military veterans is often forged in the dirt and grime of battle.
As some veterans struggle with their reintroduction into civilian life, a unique support group offers a return to that brotherhood, and a bit of therapy, by having veterans work side-by-side in the dirt again.
"Yes, it does. It gives me a sense of purpose,” said Jason Corbin, the farm manager of the group F.A.R.M.
F.A.R.M. stands for Farmers Assisting Returning Military. Army veterans Steve Smith and James Jeffers co-founded the program in 2012 when they found that farming could be a therapeutic endeavor.
“When we're farming, we got our hands in the dirt. People aren't meant to be by themselves, especially when they leave a whole brotherhood,” Corbin, a Marine veteran, said. "I was in a dark spot at one time when I got out. And I knew I wanted to help people. I want vets to smile. There's no reason they should feel like I did."
"There's a lot of structure and regimen in the military, and there's a lot of structure and regimen in farming,” Smith said.
That regimen, including an internship program for veterans who want to pursue farming as a career, has helped more than 250 vets so far.
"My partner was struggling with a lot of traumatic brain injury and PTSD,” said Smith. “And it was exactly what he needed to heal."
"We get him working, start teaching, start talking to them about what we're doing, get their minds off of things,” said Corbin.
"It helps with PTSD. I know a lot of guys are struggling with depression,” said Army veteran and Paramedic/EMT Josh Ledford. "I've seen guys that have been on medicine, then given up their medicine because they're out here. They're working, the brotherhood, the camaraderie.”
"A lot of these guys are carrying some serious baggage. And we're here to help them lift it,” said Smith.
F.A.R.M recently moved its base of operations from DeSoto to Seagoville, where they hope to eventually build a community of tiny houses. Veterans can live and work, dig in the dirt, unearth their demons, and find purpose in their lives again.
"It's wonderful, man. I love it,” said Corbin. “I don't see myself going anywhere for a very long time but here."
Out here where digging in the dirt, raising livestock and produce, might be the best therapy a struggling soldier could need.
F.A.R.M. is supported by the work of the veteran assistance group Carry the Load. The non-profit works to provide active, meaningful ways to honor and “celebrate the sacrifices made by our nation’s heroes.”
Their fundraising efforts, including the Memorial Day weekend events at Reverchon Park in Dallas, are used to support F.A.R.M.’s programs.
For information on Memorial Day events, other groups supported by Carry the Load, and for info on how you can donate to help, please visit these websites: