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Wounded Veteran Starts Blueberry Farm

Sergeant Adam Burke served in the United States Army, deploying to both Iraq and Afghanistan as an infantryman and weapons instructor. In 2003, after 14 months of deployment, Adam was hit with shrapnel from a mortar round explosion. As a result of the blast, Adam now suffers from migraines, tinnitus, fibromyalgia, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

After coming home, Adam wasn't sure what to do. “When I got off the bus...there was no crowd of people waiting and saying ‘welcome home son',” says Adam. “It was just me, and the lonely side effects of TBI and PTSD.”

In 2009 Adam started Veterans Farm to help other disabled veterans reintegrate back into society through horticulture therapy. Adam was awarded a Mission Continues Fellowship in 2010 to support his work at Veterans Farm. At the farm, veterans grow and pick blueberries as a team to develop solutions that will enable them to overcome physical and mental barriers. According to the Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture, horticulture therapy has been proven to help with cognitive issues by helping veterans learn new skills and language, as well as improve decision making and problem solving skills. In addition to receiving horticulture therapy, veterans are paid while learning how to run and operate their own farm. After completing the program, veterans are matched with other large farms that need skilled labor.

The Mission Continues is for veterans with disabilities that are ready to move forward with their lives,” says Adam. “Only you can decide whether you are going to press forward and make it. The Fellowship provides a means and a way to do so. The Mission Continues has given me a chance to realize for the first time in my life what I was born to do. I find the greatest joy in life now is giving back.”

To learn more about Adam's innovative Veterans Farm, visit his website.

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