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Soldier finds solace in farming

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The need for help and an even greater need for a purpose brought together two unlikely strangers on a Georgia beef farm.

Eddie Brannon tells Brownfield by day he’s a funeral director, at night he’s a beef producer and on the weekend he’s a local pastor.  After a family crisis Brannon needed someone to help out on the farm, but didn’t have the means to pay fulltime so he hired a retired soldier.  “Mike wanted to do something and he said he didn’t need money, he needed a purpose, and ‘If I don’t find something to do, I’m afraid I’m going to swallow my pistol.’ I said, ‘I’ll see you in the morning at eight-o’clock.’”

Retired Master Sergeant Mike Reynolds had served 18 years in the military and suffered a traumatic brain injury. Reynolds tells Brownfield he was in and out of hospitals for more than three years and at the end of a dark road.  “I tried to go back to the ambulance and fire department and nobody would hire you, so right before I started back to drink, I decided I’d be a farmer.”

Over the past two years, Reynolds worked for Brannon, learned from other area beef producers and found inspiration to become a farmer himself.  “By staying busy, I think that’s the best way for my own personal health to be ok.”

They both joined the National Farmer Veteran Coalition to help other veterans get into agriculture and find similar healing. Reynolds recently bought his own farm near Atlanta, Georgia where he plans to market freezer beef through the Home Grown by Heroes label.

AUDIO: Interview with Mike and Eddie during the National Farmer Veteran Coalition Conference

 

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