By Jillian Mock
After returning from duty, many veterans are turning their skills and passion to environmental projects, finding healing and companionship in the process.
Logan Nagy, Business Development Associate at Earth Day Texas and Air Force veteran
Today is Veteran’s Day. Today, we are reminded that freedom is not free – it is a hard won privilege. Today, we celebrate the men and women who have risked everything so that you and I will not have to.
In recent years, the struggles veterans face to adjust to civilian life when they return from military service have slowly moved into public discourse. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, homelessness, depression, suicidal ideations, actual suicide at alarming rates… by now we have seen the effects of modern warfare on people we know and love. Yet our methods of outreach and treatment lag far behind the need.
I’ve met quite a few passionate Earth Day Texas (EDTx) staff members who care about both veterans and the environment. Last week, I sat down with Logan Nagy who leads the veterans’ initiative, Environmental Veterans Unlimited (E.V.U.) at EDTx and learned about what he is doing to help. As a former Air Force AWACS Crew Chief, Logan told me about how he wants to create a space for veterans to network and learn about resources available to them.
“I’m concerned about the status of our current and future veterans,” Logan said. “They completed countless missions during their military careers but are unable to find their new mission in civilian life. I want to combat that as much as possible by giving them an avenue to pursue with passion.”
In Texas, there are many hardworking nonprofits that want to help veterans find purpose and brotherhood. Logan told me about organizations like Heroes on the Water, which get veterans involved in the outdoors. There is also newly formed FORCE BLUE, which trains former Special Operations divers in the U.S. military to use their skills to protect and replant coral reefs.
Another is Eat The Yard, and their corresponding nonprofit, Farmers Assisting Returning Military (or F.A.R.M.) which helps veterans learn the ins and outs of organic farming, all while supplying local, organic produce to the Dallas area.
From what I can see, Logan is working to bring groups like this together at E.V.U. in April, 2017 during the annual exposition. Both FORCE BLUE and Eat The Yard exhibited at EDTx last year but this year, EDTx is taking this even further by dedicating an entire section of the event to veterans’ organizations involved in environmental projects. The goal is not only to educate the general public about the good these groups are doing, but also to give these groups the chance to network with one another. Cross-organization connections can lead to increased companionship and support.
Isn’t it incredible that the next mission for these veterans, the initiatives they need for healing and peace, are also environmentally beneficial?
Although mental health, veteran support and the environment might all seem like disparate issues, these organizations are proof that they are all connected. With a smart and meaningful strategy, we can positively impact both people and the environment, sometimes several times over if organic farming is involved.
So today, let’s set aside some time and honor the veterans in our lives. I also encourage you to come to Fair Park during EDTx to learn from these incredible organizations and see how your contributions might make a difference to veterans in North Texas and beyond.
If you are interested in learning more about the veteran experience of adjusting to civilian life, I recommend reading the book Tribe by Sebastian Junger. I cannot personally vouch for all of its contents, but I have been told by many veterans that it resonated deeply with how they felt upon leaving military service.
Jillian Mock is a Dallas-based writer, editor, and marketing consultant. She specializes in outdoor and medical writing with a particular interest in how people shape – and are shaped by – their environments. A born-and-raised Texan, she lives off of chips, guacamole, and strawberry ice cream.