VA Portland Health Care System
VA FARMS for Veterans
According to VA’s Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention (OMHSP), more than 60,000 Veterans died by suicide in the last decade. That number is much more than a statistic – it is a reminder that failing to address mental health needs carries real and tragic consequences.
OMHSP highlights that mental health challenges and suicide are affected by many factors, including lower income, unemployment and reduced social connection. Many of these factors are also prominent in rural communities, where Veterans have a 20% higher suicide rate than their urban counterparts.
To address these and other challenges facing Veterans across the country, in 2019, VA created the VA Farming and Recovery Mental Health Services (VA FARMS) program at ten VA facilities across the country, including VA Portland. VA Farms provides Veterans with agricultural vocational training and mental health care services from licensed providers.
VA FARMS uses agritherapy, an approach that incorporates mental health care and services with agricultural vocational training, to support Veterans’ behavioral and mental health needs. VA FARMS partners with a variety of stakeholders, including non-profit organizations, academic organizations and state governments to offer these services to Veterans.
By providing occupational skills, social connection and clinical care, VA FARMS addresses several of the factors that impact Veterans’ overall well-being.
The Portland VA FARMS program strives to improve Veterans’ quality of life by supporting their ability to fully participate in agriculture and horticulture related activities. VA Portland offers in-person and virtual classes such as beekeeping, landscape & garden maintenance, greenhouse production, and vegetable gardening. VA FARMS brings horticulture to Veterans through discussion, demonstrations, and professional training.
VA FARMS is part of Whole Health services, which focuses on…
“...What matters to you…”
…as opposed to “What is the matter with you?”
VA FARMS is a therapeutic, Whole Health program available to any VA enrolled Veteran.
New classes beginning regularly.