Portraits of the American Veteran - The Story of Jon Jackson
When you first hear the words Comfort Farms, what do you think of? A delightful, cozy, and relaxing farm?
In the words of Army Ranger, Jon Jackson, "There's nothing comfortable about this place. You're going to come in and get your ass kicked."
Jon grew up in New York City, right across from the Statue of Liberty. He didn't come from a military family, but when the World Trade Center was attacked, he knew his country needed him. After six full deployments and 40 months of ground combat, Jon says the person who he was, was lost forever.
Jon realized he needed to do something and chose the path of creating a nonprofit to help himself and fellow veterans transition. He chose the name Comfort Farms in honor of his buddy who was killed in action, Captain Kyle A. Comfort.
Comfort Farms, located outside of Milledgeville, GA, helps combat veterans heal from the trauma of war through the "simple" practice of farming. This constitutes picking vegetables, milking goats, preparing the soil, and so so much more. It combines hard work and teamwork, like so many veterans are used to, but in a different setting and for a different purpose.
"Leave your problems at the road. You're on Comfort Farms and we need your help. So they immediately go into this, 'I can be useful, I can be helpful.' I can say things to you as a vet, as a peer, that a therapist can't say. There's a feeling of camaraderie." – That's something Jon said to us when we visited, and we can't help but feel its importance even more so now as we reflect.
Many veterans experience exactly what Jon experienced, and it's only amplified when they return home. You made it back, but now what? You just spent the most recent part of your life living and breathing a military lifestyle, and now you're tasked with transitioning back into a civilian role. It's a daunting challenge to have to piece together your old self with your new self, but it's something almost every veteran experiences.
The memories play a role, as well as the immense amount of change that you're subject to when you come back home. While much of the change is good, feelings like belonging, commonality, and purpose can begin to disappear. That's why we take Jon Jackson's words to heart and believe so strongly in the opportunity he provides for veterans across the country. Comfort Farms is a place for veterans to go to and feel those feelings–belonging, commonality, and purpose–once again.
To conclude, we want to end with another quote from Mr. Jackson himself.
"You can literally spend the rest of your days doing nothing, or you can spend the rest of your days doing something f***ing awesome."
We invite you to do something f***ing awesome today.
If you're struggling to transition back to civilian life, Comfort Farms may be able to help you do just that. Learn how you can get involved.