'Ground Operations: Battlefields to Farmfields' documentary explores matchup of veterans and farmers


"There's a lot of guys that are coming back now that have a traumatic brain injury, the post-traumatic stress disorder. We have anger issues. They need somewhere to de-escalate," said Adam Burke, Veterans Farm CEO.

Veterans hungry for work and an aging agriculture industry that needs more workers. A new film, "Ground Operations: Battlefields to Farmfields" shows how one helps the other.

"We need a whole new generation to stand up and take over the reins," said documentary filmmaker Dulanie Ellis.

Ellis created the documentary to help keep farming alive and give retired soldiers purpose.

"There's this really wonderful matchup between the kind of skills that it takes to be a good leader and a good soldier, are very translatable to what it takes to become a successful farmer," said Ellis.

The Department of Labor says that about a million and a half service people will be coming home in the next five years. Combine that with the fact that more than half of the farmers in America are over age 65, it appears we need hardworking, intelligent individuals to help feed America.

"We are headed toward a time when we will have close to 9 billion people living on this Earth. At the same time we know that the resources for producing food are dwindling," said Oran Hesterman, Fair Food Network founder, president and CEO.

The Farmer Veteran Coalition and others helps connect those looking for options.

"Going from a destroyer to a creator," said Edgar Hercila.

Army Civil Affairs Specialist Edgar Hercila coordinated food and water needs in Iraq. He went to war at age 31, but on returning he became homeless.

He studied at Archi's Acres in San Diego and The Great Park in Irvine. Now he has a garden plot at The Growing Experience in Long Beach.

"I'm starting with one-tenth of an acre, approximately 5,000 square feet, and hopefully expand beyond that," said Hercila.

There will be a fundraiser and screening of the "Ground Operations: Battlefields to Farmfields" on June 6 at the Armory Center for the Arts, 145 N. Raymond Avenue, Pasadena.

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