By Matt de Simone
Since 2014, ALCOVA Mortgage has recognized veterans across the service area for their dedication to the United States by honoring them with a plaque and a $500 check. Veterans are recognized not only for their service but also for their continuing service to their communities.
The four veterans honored at New Freedom Farm in Buchanan last week are four Army vets who have not only served their country but continue to serve their community and help other veterans as mentors on the farm.
Each of these veterans arrived at New Freedom Farm with trauma, and now all of them give countless hours back to help more veterans in need.
Army veterans Andrew Kintgen of Buchanan, Clint Cash of Salem, Melvin Smith of Roanoke, and Fred Owens of Bedford/Roanoke were met by community members and representatives of local media outlets to help celebrate their efforts on New Freedom Farm and their service within the Botetourt community.
New Freedom Farm Director Lois Fritz thanked those in attendance for being there for the event.
“ALCOVA Mortgage honors hometown heroes, and I put in four of our Army veterans who served our country and continue to help our veterans on New Freedom Farm,” Fritz said in a recent interview. “I think it’s interesting that we all served together and didn’t know each other. Now we serve together and really know each other – all branches get together and have a great time. Peer-to-peer comradery and the civilians’ support make it work.
“Every day, our heroes should be honored. This is an opportunity for others to come together seeing a special event that once (soldiers) serve, they continue to serve.”
The family atmosphere at New Freedom Farm provides a safe place for veterans and first responders suffering from trauma, depression/anxiety, substance use, and other issues. Staff and volunteers engage visitors to the farm by encouraging therapeutic interaction with the farm’s equine residents, farm chores, and peer-to-peer support.
These visits help veterans and first responders with feelings of isolation, communication, trust, and social skills. The end goal of these interactions is to empower veterans and first responders to heal by realizing their efforts and contributions and assisting with reintegration into civilian life.
For more information about New Freedom Farm, visit newfreedomfarm.org.