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Rooted in the Community: Assessing the Reintegration Effects of Agriculture on Rural Veterans

Published:August 24, 2017DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apmr.2017.06.035

      Abstract

      Objective

      To assess the effect of a veteran-oriented community agricultural initiative on transitioning rural veterans.

      Design

      Convergent mixed-method program evaluation.

      Setting

      Veteran-oriented farm-to-market community agricultural initiative.

      Participants

      Veterans (N=43) who were members of the community agricultural initiative.

      Main Outcome Measures

      Health, well-being, and reintegration were assessed by self-reported data from interviews, a demographic survey, a validated health quality of life measure (Veterans RAND-12 [VR-12]), a validated reintegration measure (Military to Civilian Questionnaire), and a general satisfaction survey.

      Results

      Veteran participants were primarily white (88.4%, n=38) and men (74.4%, n=32), and most had a service-connected disability rating (58.2%, n=25). Qualitative and quantitative data revealed that the veterans participating in this community agricultural initiative experienced health and reintegration benefits. Results on the Military to Civilian Questionnaire, VR-12, and satisfaction survey suggest that participating in this community agricultural initiative contributed to improved mental, physical, and emotional health and vocational skills, community connectedness, and interpersonal communication. Qualitative interviews supported quantitative findings and revealed that participating in the community agricultural initiative provided veterans with a sense of satisfaction, a sense of belonging, and helped decrease the stigma surrounding their veteran status.

      Conclusions

      Veterans who participate in this community agricultural initiative reported general improvements in physical and mental health, including improvements in sleep, nutrition, and exercise, and decreases in anxiety, pain, depression, and medication and substance use, all known factors which effect veteran reintegration.

      Keywords

      List of abbreviations:

      CR (community reintegration), PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder), VA (Department of Veterans Affairs), VHA (Veterans Health Administration), VR-12 (Veterans RAND-12), VR-36 (Veterans RAND-36)
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