The Freedom Farm for Vets is a not-for-profit working farm with the sole purpose of assisting veterans and their families to solve any problems that they may have. The non-stress environment of the farm provides PTSD sufferers and other veterans a place to go to get positive support and feedback. Our programs on the farm are designed to educate and provide a sense of community, allowing vets to help themselves and one another. Through networking, we also provide unlimited support for families of veterans who have soldiers on active duty and abroad. The farm is open to all veterans, including active duty personnel.
The following programs are currently active:
Rose Memorial Program
The Rose Memorial Program provides a living memorial to deceased veterans through rose plants donated by families and friends. The roses are typically shipped directly to us. We plant and cultivate them to produce as many blooms as possible.
We have a page on our website that is dedicated to the veterans who are memorialized by these roses. Pictures are taken of the roses in bloom and are posted on the website. The family or friends that donate them can see them and can get a copy of the photo, if requested.
The blooms are cut and put into single vase arrangements, which are then taken to the patients at the James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago. Our rose lady delivers the roses personally to each patient, with a smile and a word of thanks for their service to our country.
Our gardens are one of the main sources for stress free participation on the farm. Planting and tending the gardens is relaxing as well as rewarding, and the work is not physically demanding. The veterans or their family members can take the produce home during harvest time, and any surplus will be donated to local food pantries. Veterans who participate in the local food pantries benefit from the locally and organically grown vegetables that are free from herbicides and pesticides.
Animal Care Program
The animals on the farm are treated almost like pets, although we may sell our eggs. Our chickens like to be petted, and the horses act more like dogs, always wanting attention. The animals have proven to relate to people in a soothing, accepting manner and have been known to cause positive emotional changes in adults and children alike.
Medical Referral Plan
Veterans who need assistance finding out their eligibility for medical programs can request help from the Farm staff. It may be something as simple as a phone number they need, or a referral to other veteran services or organizations in the area. With the James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center available to all veterans in the area, help for them is only a few minutes away.
Farm Maintenance Program
Farms are always in need of repair and upgrading. Completing these various tasks requires thought and persistence. Most of the work is done by hand, so the stress of power tool operation is not present. Medical studies have indicated that physical work can be rewarding and therapeutic. For vets who would enjoy and benefit from this kind of activity, opportunities abound.
The following programs are planned, and will begin as soon as resources allow:
This program is designed to fill the cracks that many vets experience locating transportation to the James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago, or any other appointments, for therapy and other services. Plans include the acquisition of 2 vans and drivers, which would initially be available 5 days per week. A reservation/request system would be established to allow veterans to call for a pickup. Veterans would be preferred to act as drivers for the service, and would be hired at a competitive rate.
Emergency Mechanical Help
This program would provide no-cost home repair services for the families of service personnel who have a member on active duty or a family member who lost his or her life in service to our country. The Freedom Farm for Vets will send a repair person to fix the problem, at no cost to the family.
We will also provide names and phone numbers for the family to contact directly, if they would prefer. We are planning to hire qualified veterans to perform the work at competitive rates, if suitable vets are available. Otherwise, we will contact area contractors willing to volunteer their services for the work needed. Supplies will also be donated by area businesses. We would require 2 adults be present at the time of repairs.
The Equine Center will have 8 horses used for equine therapy, as well as education for vets and their families.
Construction of future facilities will include an arena, complete with lights and heating for inclement weather, a barn to house horses and tack (including riding equipment for stability and safety of riders), hay, food, an office for program director and staff, and parking for participants.
Certified recreation therapists with riding instruction experience will head the program. Volunteers will be recruited to assist the riders during lessons. Programs will include lessons for veterans and their family members at no cost. If these veterans receive a stipend from government programs, fees will be collected from those amounts on a sliding scale.
Frank’s Hobby Shop
Frank’s Hobby Shop will be built, and outfitted initially with tools and models donated from the collection of Frank Ress. Frank was actively involved in planning this program before he died. A model railroad layout, radio controlled boats, and many assorted plastic models will be included. Frank’s Hobby Shop will be open to all veterans and their families to enjoy the art of model building and woodworking of all kinds. A boat pond will be built to operate the fleet of radio control boats.