Field Exercises: How Veterans Are Healing Themselves through Farming and Outdoor Activities

Field Exercises: How Veterans Are Healing Themselves through Farming and Outdoor Activities

Stephanie Westlund

Language: English

Pages: 240

ISBN: 0865717613

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


There are nearly twenty-five million veterans and active-duty soldiers in North America. Some experts estimate that more than one quarter of these men and women suffer from post-traumatic distress, and many other military persons experience difficulty reintegrating into civilian life. While conventionally prescribed treatments primarily involve medication and therapy, many people are discovering additional ways to manage their injuries and reduce their suffering.

Field Exercises: How Veterans Are Healing Themselves through Farming and Outdoor Activities shares the compelling stories of men and women who are finding relief from stressful and traumatic military experiences, while also establishing community networks and other peer support initiatives. Stephanie Westlund examines:

  • The deep and far-reaching connections between nature and human health
  • The tremendous impact of stress and trauma on survivors' lives
  • Resources and groups providing opportunities in the emerging field of “Green Care”.

Field Exercises offers hope for veterans searching for methods to ease the transition to civilian life and recover from military stress and trauma. This book will appeal to millions of North American soldiers, veterans, and their loved ones, doctors, psychiatrists, social workers and other caregivers, other groups struggling with high rates of stress and post-traumatic experience, and all those interested in the relationship between nature and human health.

Stephanie Westlund holds a PhD in peace and conflict studies. She has been conducting research with veterans since 2009, and continues to be inspired by their courage and personal resolve to move through pain toward recovery, and their unrelenting desire to serve their communities.

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the iceberg.” Fisher told me that the modern world confines our perceptions and sensory abilities in ways that make it difficult to understand or bring meaning to nature experiences “beyond the obviousness of them when we’re having them.” He is hopeful that as more people recognize the importance of nature contact, better ways will come to speak about these experiences as integral to our lives. After an experience of trauma, Fisher observed, both the body and the psyche need to regain their

peacekeeping tour in the former Yugoslavia. “You’re working 22 or 23 hours a day on the front line, being shot at or guys are getting killed or wounded with land mines,” he recollected, then added, “So, by the time I came home after about a year and a half in Yugoslavia and with all the leadership training, I was pretty wired. And the thing was it wasn’t just me, it was everybody. They trained us hard for Yugoslavia as if we were going to war, and then we came home from Yugoslavia and were pretty

exceed these levels. “The guys that I’m dealing with, they’re too beat up and too abused, they don’t want to be pushed,” he explained. “Knowing how hard and how far you can push people is pretty important.” Christian also reflected on the low level of trust amongst veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress. “If you don’t have face time with them, they’re not going to trust you. If you don’t have the opportunity to address their concerns face to face, or explain what’s going to happen, they

that I was now once again useful, and so I think ‘the military’ helped in having a role,” Gord explained. “It helped stem a lot of that issue: abruptness, sudden anger, sudden outbursts. I didn’t wake up in the night. I slept right through. Little things like that.” Gord was the first amputee to ever take a canoe course with the Canadian Forces, and some of the course instructors were surprised to see him there. He recalled how he was clumsy with some of the strokes, but he persevered to become

[cited February 8, 2014]. ncta.unl.edu/combatcowboyboots. 42.  Archi’s Acres. “VSAT Program.” [online]. [cited September 28, 2013]. archisacres.com/page/vsat-program. 43.  Patricia Leigh Brown. “Helping Soldiers Trade Their Swords for Plows.” New York Times, February 5, 2011. [online]. [cited July 20, 2011]. nytimes.com/2011/02/06/us/06vets.html. 44.  Ibid. 45.  Farmer Veteran Coalition. “Farming Project Invites Veterans to Work and Learn.” Press Release, April 23, 2010. [online]. [cited

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