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This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.
For American soldiers, the move from the military to civilian life is not always easy. Military veterans have a thirty-five percent unemployment rate. This is more than three times the national average. And an estimated one hundred thousand veterans are homeless. The federal government and private organizations offer programs to help veterans. One private program is called Archi’s Acres. It is on a two hectare farm in southern California.
Marine Sergeant Colin Archipley returned to the United States after serving three tours of duty in Iraq. He and his wife, Karen, bought a farm in southern California. They produce organic, hydroponic crops. They grow their tomatoes, lettuce and basil in pure water instead of in soil.
Karen Archipley says her husband wanted to share the peace he found on his farm with other veterans. So the Archipleys worked with the local Veterans Administration office. They wanted to help returning troops translate their leadership skills to private business. Archi’s Acres is helping combat veterans become agricultural business owners.
COLIN ARCHIPLEY: “We have these very young leaders that with just some new hands-on skills, some new training, can make very productive workers and very efficient leaders.”
Next month, Colin Archipley is expanding his program to teach business skills. And he plans to include active troops who are ending their service. He notes that many veterans suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. This is made worse when they cannot find jobs and become homeless. He believes that the rate of PTSD would drop if soldiers could spend their last few months in the military learning skills so they could get jobs.
In his new six-week program, Colin Archipley will teach agricultural skills from planting to harvest. Karen Archipley will teach marketing. Educators from the Small Business Administration are also involved. They will teach classes on how to operate a business.
Colin Archipley does not expect veterans completing the program will have any problems finding work. He hopes to expand his program to serve veterans on the East Coast. He is also planning to make his six-week course available online so anyone in the military, anywhere, can take the classes.
COLIN ARCHIPLEY: “We think the veteran community is perfect to fill in these jobs where growers are reaching retirement and nobody’s filling their spots. Or to learn the equipment so they can distribute it throughout the United States and they can feel the satisfaction of being part of an entity that feeds America.”
And that’s the VOA Special English Agriculture Report. You can find our scripts and audio at voaspecialenglish.com. I’m Shirley Girffith.
Contributing: Jan Sluizer