Making progress: Farm houses more vets suffering from PTSD

By: Kate Burgess Email
By: Kate Burgess Email
Community donations provide a much needed boost for a farm run by a marine who has dedicated his post-military life to helping others suffering from PTSD.

U.S. Army flight medic Sgt. Jaime Adame rushes into the dust out of a medevac helicopter from the U.S. Army's Task Force Lift "Dust Off", Charlie Company 1-214 Aviation Regiment looking for wounded Marines at a landing zone that was under insurgent attack north of Sangin, in the volatile Helmand Province of southern Afghanistan, Sunday, May 15, 2011. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)

ONEIDA, Tenn. (WVLT) -- When we last saw Shawn Welch, he was battling drug addiction. He came to War Vet Village with nothing but the clothes on his back. The Veterans Administration wouldn't give him disability for the injuries he suffered in Iraq. But after 6 months on the farm, he's turned it all around.

"He's now rated 100% disability. And we actually sent him to the VA hospital in Johnson City so that he can have professional care every single day," said Alan Beaty, the co-founder of War Vet Village.

They don't offer medical care at on the farm. Just food, shelter and brotherhood. But combat weary marines get a special kind of care there. They're put to work.

"If you allow them, they'll sit around in bed all day long, they'll sit on the couch all day long and watch TV. They just don't move. By putting them in an environment where they work as a team, you're keeping them moving," Beaty explained.

So far, more than a dozen marines have crashed on Beaty's couch, looking for a type of therapy you can't get at the VA. They come, they work, they talk, and they heal.

"The people that are actually out there in danger every day and getting shot at or having to take other people's lives, it's a terrible, terrible thing. And you can't expect people to come home and handle that by themselves," Beaty added.

Thanks to community donations Beaty can help more marines who can't seem to shake what they've been through.

This week's furniture donation by Knoxville Wholes completes phase one of the War Vet Village project. Now a new house on the property, purchased using cash from a large donation, is ready to permanently house 6 homeless marines.

"Now that we have the space for them, I believe we'll be helping a lot more people in near future," Beaty said.

Beaty, his father, Keith, and his former platoon mate, Keith Hull, said they are picking up the military's slack dealing with a problem that's growing as more troops return home from Iraq.

"Post traumatic stress disorder is a problem on the active duty military as well as the people getting out," Beaty added.

The next phase of the project is clearing brush off several acres to build a wilderness camp, which will be manned by the next batch of marines.

If you'd like to donate to War Vet Village, you can send a check to:

War Vet Village
PO Box 4402
Oneida, TN 37841

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