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One Veteran Finds a New Beginning through Organic Gardening

| 12/24/2019 10:31:00 AM

Young Boy Walking In Garden

War changes a person. Speaking as a veteran, I see war as the opposite of creation. To me, the very purpose of war is to destroy. And many men and women who have served know firsthand that war can destroy your soul as well. Doctors like to call these mental and emotional disturbances from war "post-traumatic stress disorder," or PTSD. But many veterans will tell you that what they experience is not so easily classified as PTSD. Rather, war made me smarter; it made me aware of what humans are capable of. We have done some despicable things to each other over the eons. War destroyed my psyche. It destroyed my ability to function in social environments, which is the very environment that makes us human. War disconnected me from the human experience. That’s how I felt at least: disconnected.

I became interested in gardening as a form of post-trauma therapy when I decided that there was no way I could trust leaving my wellbeing in the hands of a system run by people. People mess up. I wanted to hunt and grow my own food. In the midst of all these goings-on, I had started on the Department of Veterans Affairs’ roller coaster of medication — an antidepressant class of drugs known as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, or SSRIs — seemingly by the pound.

I soon had no feelings whatsoever and just felt like a zombie. I began to have suicidal thoughts that just weren’t there before. At the urging of my entire family, I got off of them and began to garden as a replacement therapy.

There came no overnight miracle. Yet, slowly, through the planting of a seed, I had started to begin to appreciate life again. As I would watch this seedling grow, and as I cautiously built up the soil, I began to see again that our world is so connected — from the mycelium in healthy, organic matter-rich soil to the miracle that is a watermelon plant. All of those are connected. The mycelium helps the roots uptake nutrients, which in turn give the mycelium nutrients the fungus cannot otherwise get. Then, I ingest those nutrients when I eat the melon.

Seedlings In Therapy Garden Plot

1/14/2020 9:04:32 PM

This is one of the most beautiful things I've read in a very long time. Thank you for sharing your heart and your passion...and most of all, thank you for your service.

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