The core purpose for the Freedom Farm for Vets has always been to support veterans in need, no matter what the need may be. In the early years of the farm, veterans were in need of furniture for apartment living, equipment for daily living and they had no where to turn. The farm contacted families of other veterans and families in support of the farm and collected needed furniture for veterans ‘getting back in their feet’. The cost? Pay it forward… give to your brothers in arms what you have to give when you no longer need it.
During the first year, a great working relationship with Mr. Mike Peck of the Lake County Veteran’s Association was established. A veteran was in need of a motorized wheel chair, and a manual one to replace his old one. The farm contacted Mr. Peck, who had one as yet unclaimed. The veteran had waited almost 2 years for a wheelchair to get him to appointments and get around his home. He also received a handicapped van to transport himself to the VA and beyond. He was charged nothing and was extremely grateful. It just took someone to step up to do some ‘leg work’ to make a connection and find him what he needed.
The families of veterans have always been considered as a most important part of our military. The wives and children are always welcome to come to visit the animals and the gardens, to learn about how a small farm functions. Although riding the horses is not an option for small children, feeding them and learning about them is truly educational. Horses have been an integral part of the farm since its inception and continue to serve all the veterans that come for a visit.
Active duty military from Great Lakes Naval Base have been welcomed for many years now. The 6-10 recruits come to help with ‘farm chores’ and are treated to a day out of uniform and a picnic of grilled burgers, brats or whatever is on the grill, chips, desert and a nap in the sun. These days for the recruits are special, as so many are far from home and feel like they are out in the country, even thought they are only 20 minutes from the base.
Along with many other projects, the freedom Farm has received grants from The Home Depot to help in housing repairs and improvements for veterans and their families. In one case, two bothers from recent combat, returned and were home bound. The townhouse they were living in had leaking faucets and structural issues. The Freedom Farm was informed of their needs and got the grant to get repairs done for them. During the repair process, black mold was discovered and the project, though much bigger than first expected, was completed and the brothers live in a safe an functional environment now.