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"It gave me an excuse to get out into society again": Decreasing Veteran Isolation through a Community Agricultural Peer Support Model

Authors:

Christopher Brown,

Growing Veterans, Lynden Washington Bellingham Vet Center, Bellingham, Washington, US
About Christopher
  • Co-founder and President of Growing Veterans
  • MSW Intern as VA Vet Center Readjustment Counselor, Bellingham Vet Center
  • Whatcom County Veteran’s Advisory Board Member
  • Member of Western Washington Universitym Human Services Advisory Committee
  • The Mission Continues Alum.
  • AmeriCorps Alum.
  • Member of NASW.
  • USMC veteran and Purple Heart recipient
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Karen Besterman-Dahan ,

VA HSR&D Center of Innovation on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (CINDRR) , James A. Haley Veterans Hospital, Tampa, US
About Karen

Research Science Specialist, Core Investigator (CINDRR)

Qualitative Core Director (CINDRR)

PhD Medical Anthropology

RD (Registered Dietitian)

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Margeaux Chavez,

VA HSR&D Center of Innovation on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (CINDRR) , James A. Haley Veterans Hospital, Tampa, US
About Margeaux

Health Science Specialist CINDRR

MPH

MA Applied Anthropology

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Eni Njoh,

VA HSR&D Center of Innovation on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (CINDRR) , James A. Haley Veterans Hospital, Tampa, US
About Eni

Health Science Specialist, CINDRR

MPH

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William Smith

Growing Veterans, Lynden Washington Western Washington University, Bellingham, WashingtonNone
About William
  • PhD
  • Vice President, Board of Director, Growing Veterans
  • Volunteer Development Consultant, Growing Veterans
  • Emeritus Professor of English, Western Washington University
  • Volunteer, Fellowships Office, Western Washington University
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Abstract

Background: Reintegration is known to be a difficult time for Veterans. Peer support programs offer a good strategy for military and Veterans, particularly as it relates to reintegration.  We review an innovative, peer support program implemented at a Veteran run community agricultural initiative (CAI).

Methods: This project was a case-study evaluation using a mixed methods design including participant observations; qualitative interviews with a total of 34 CAI members and affiliates; and administered surveys to a total of 67 CAI members and affiliates.

Findings: Survey results suggested that CAI participation contributed to improvements in communication, forming bonds, and developing new friendships with Veterans, non-Veterans, family members, and strangers, as well as increased involvement in community events. Interviews revealed that the CAI’s informal peer-support culture and intentional normalization of sharing stories helped promote recovery and reintegration.

Conclusions: The CAI continues to refine its peer support model. The organization is overcoming common barriers by leveraging community partnerships to bring Veterans into the fold and expanding their peer support model to Veteran organizations with similar missions. This will ultimately lead to a culture of peer support across agencies and spread the reach of the CAI’s mission for Veterans.

How to Cite: Brown, C., Besterman-Dahan, K., Chavez, M., Njoh, E. and Smith, W., 2016. \"It gave me an excuse to get out into society again\": Decreasing Veteran Isolation through a Community Agricultural Peer Support Model. Journal of Veterans Studies, 1(1), pp.163–204. DOI: http://doi.org/10.21061/jvs.42
Published on 15 Jul 2016.

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