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Veterans Farm helping local vets heal

5:20 PM, May 29, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- From a small sprout, new beginnings are taking root.

"It is therapy, it is agri-therapy," said Navy veteran Shawn Rankin with a smile.

Veterans said getting their hands dirty and working with the land is helping heal the emotional wounds war can leave behind.

Veterans Farm, a local organization, graduated its third class on Wednesday.  

The program puts combat vets through an intensive farm training program. When the program is complete, each of them a receive few acres of farmland to call their own.

"We are not a charity that gives a handout, but we provide an opportunity and challenge these guys with the opportunity we give them," said founder Adam Burke.

The program allowed the vets to help pay-it-forward.

Adam and Jenny Ennis plan on using what they grow to help the homeless or trafficked women in the Jacksonville community.

Adam Ennis said after serving in the Marines for six years he was suffering from PTSD and bi-polar disorder.

Adam said Veterans Farm has helped him come out of shell and helped his marriage.

"It gave me the confidence to step out and reach out to her to be a team player again in our marriage as well as on the farm," Adam said.

Shawn Rankin's favorite part of the farm are his chickens. 

He was injured overseas. When Rankin returned to Jacksonville, he was attacked while walking along Jacksonville's riverwalk.

"I was pronounced dead twice," Rankin said.

Rankin said his chickens, two acres of land and red peppers that are beginning to sprout, have helped to quell his depression.

"I get to come out here and play all day," Rankin said with a laugh. "You've got the chickens, you've got the garden, there is no stress in my life. It really helps me out a lot."

So with each planted seed, what is growing at these farms is more than just food, it is a chance to heal and help.

To find out more about the Veterans Farm organization, including how to donate or volunteer, check out their website or Facebook page.

For more information on Work Vessels for Veterans click here.

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