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Roots Program

Roots Program

Historical Synopsis: Originally envisioned by Zach Albrecht over 15 years of research from first hand experiences and collaboration with other veterans, the Roots Program was specifically designed to help alleviate the homeless veteran problem by providing an entire support structure and employment to those in the most dire of need.

Overview of Homeless Veteran Reporting

Homelessness is a complex problem and individually unique with each person. No one person's story is the same as the next thus making it difficult. This problem is driven by a variety things, such as: personal crisis, trauma, poverty, employment, discrimination, and run ins with the law. Negative influence or lack of positive influence from friends and family only compound the problem. With a veteran, it's even more complex because there is commonly a combination of factors at play that are affecting their measurement.

However, the problem is minimized by how it's publicly accounted for. For example in 2018, the Department of Veteran Affairs for Wisconsin estimated that we have 332 homeless veteran which can be found here. However this reporting is grossly inaccurate. For 2018, Wisconsin actually had 1,463 homeless veterans in the state as reported by all homeless shelters in the state. A Custom report can be requested here. That is over 4 times higher than what was reported by the department of Veteran Affairs. Of that number, 133 homeless veterans were found on the streets during monthly outreach efforts with outreach efforts occurring once monthly. With the higher reported number as accounted by reporting homeless shelters across the state, this additionally does not account for:

  • transient homeless traveling through and from the state.
  • homeless that may have broken the law and ended up in jail.
  • homeless that have far removed themselves from society by camping in remote woodlands in private and public wooded areas.

A Homeless Veterans set of challenges

What makes homeless among Veterans a challenge?

Homelessness among veterans is probably one of the most challenge statistic in homelessness but why is that? To understand that, you have to understand the cultural differences between most Americans versus those who are a veteran or are currently in our military. 

America, today, is very individualistic. A quick walk through New York and you'll feel that vibe as many are only out for themselves. Don't get me wrong, there is pockets of society that are not this way but in the larger fabric of society, most places are with varying degrees of development. This is only becoming more ingrained today with electronics being used to distract people from going through the awkwardness of building social connection in person. The convenience of mobile devices has devolved true human interaction.

When we look at our military, the culture is almost the opposite and it starts with indoctrination. Military members are put into a stressful situation with limited access to electronics and communication to the outside world. Everyone is given the same clothes, haircut, and their first name is no longer used which lays the precedent for what is to come. Then a high amount of stress from a single source is introduced as way of minimizing fighting within the ranks while everyone is training at a constant rate. This stimulation remains fairly high but gradually subsides during training as the indoctrinated are develop cohesion and begin functioning more in a disciplined military manner. Upon graduation from training, friends and family will notice or feel a respectable amount of difference but often struggle with identifying what is really different. What people don't realize is service member is now culturally different. The service member has now developed a communal culture. This culture is strategic as it does extremely well in high conflict situations.

Throughout a military service members time, they continue to develop this culture with others. During highly emotionally traumatic moments, the service member is able to, almost elastically, bounce back to a readiness state so that they can continue to perform. This is usually done through a combination of suppression and discussing matters with their most trusted buddies. Over time, these struggles become more manageable as they are dealing with it all together. Where it changes drastically for the worse is when the trauma still exists at a high level and they depart the military for civilian life.

What I'm about to state may be sensitive to some and intentionally a short description just to provide a surface layer view of the problem. This list is not entirely conclusive and may evolve with time.

Some of these challenges are:

Challenge

Who does it Effect?

Symptoms & Effects

Separation

Friends, Family, and Veteran

Very common with veterans that have to serve tours longer than 6 months at a time or have deployed excessively. The deployments place a lot of strain on the family, particularly those that have children as the family has to re-acclimate to their roles once the veteran returns home. 

Employment

Employers of the Veteran

This effects Reservists and the National Guard units the most immediately. Active duty service members will experience this after. Due to deployment rates, employers from 2001 to 2016 and prior high deployment times in other conflicts, have been reluctant to hire veterans because if the veteran was called up for active duty, the employer may lose the employee for the entire duration yet have to retain the position for them due to USERRA. Prior to 1994, there was very few laws that protected a Veteran. During the recession, employers found ways to fire employees about to mobilize or entirely changed the position during mobilization so that it was difficult for them to return to their job.

Mental Health

Friends, Family, Veteran, & Employers

Service members that come back from a deployment with a mental health affliction or faced a form of trauma that inflicted mental health trauma. There's a variety of factors as to why they refuse to open up about their psychological challenges. Two key areas of focus are:

Military service:

Anyone in the service knows there is quite a bit of stigma around promotions from having a mental health record in your military jacket. Everyone wants to be promoted and will do their best to hide an ailment they believe would affect them negatively when a slot opens for them.

Civilian life: 

The stigma has even larger ramifications that may result in being denied a job, loss of access to their children from a adversarial parent that seeks to alienate, or social events that the veteran wants to partake in. Society has deliberate areas of discrimination that make it extremely difficult for veterans to talk about mental health.

Physical Trauma

Veteran

Amputation, organ functionality, dis-figuration all effects the physical capabilities of a veteran but it also affects the perception of others who look at and up to them. These conditions can really effect their mental health, access to jobs, lifetime longevity, and their general quality of life.

Mixed Trauma

Veteran

All other forms of danger that may inflict mental or physical trauma on a person that usually causes a combination of physical and mental trauma. This could be in the from of assault, survivor remorse, rape, or near-death events.

Addiction

Anyone

Addiction to drugs and alcohol are one of the most common coping mechanisms that veterans will very quickly resort to for a variety of reasons. It may be the environment they live in, not enough of an emotional support structure, or conditions that require a prescription to aid in treatment. Addiction is usually a result of further underlying issue that has been failed to be addressed and often compounds existing problems. 

Cultural Trauma

Anyone

Parental, Familial, Societal Alienation has a very disruptive effect on veterans and is a form of cultural trauma. Service members live in a cohesive communal culture and environment that typical society feels surreal to them when leave the military. 

As a result of any of these aforementioned items, the chances of homelessness can increase greatly from these items, especially when there is a combination of them effecting a veteran.

The Plan

How is Partisan going to take care of our homeless Veterans?

The plan is lengthy but realize that working through years of problems will not be solved in a day. It takes time, commitment, and consistent effort to build a successful path for each person. Many of these men and women have been given up on by friends and family and it takes for them to rebuild trust in others, confidence in themselves, and strength physically and emotionally.  In short, we are rebuilding their sense of community within the veteran that has been long lost and providing them a structure to continue to sustain after. By giving the time, community, and effort while barring societal toxicity, we are enabling each veteran to rehabilitate in a way they've not had for years, sometimes decades. This is the sort of transition that our military needs to implement to mitigate long-term costs our country already has paid, continues to pay, and what it will pay for being the strongest military power that always comes to the aid of allies.

Phase 1(Recovery):

This phase is an intensive focus on their physical and emotional health.

Processing: Once a veteran is brought in, they are processed by obtaining clothes, a haircut, initial health assessment, and a clean place of their own. During this phase, testing of personality and skill sets will be performed to determine the best route to take for rehabilitating them. Throughout this time, they'll have a lot of conversations about what they are good at and what they want to do. 

Support Structure: Besides those directly helping him/her through the program, their friends and family are sought out to talk with them and encourage the veteran through their transformation. An emphasis on socializing during this phase is made as to help break down some of these isolating barriers they veterans have developed over the years.

Recreational Activities: Getting them out and socializing with other veterans and supporters helps them rebuild their own inner peace but also getting them out to do fun events, such as kayaking, fishing, snowmobiling, or concerts will help them to find motivation to build internal peace and happiness. 

Medical: Based on the initial health assessment and concerns the veteran has themselves, he/she will be brought to the appointments they need to attend. 

Nothing is expected of them during this phase other than them to continue to work on their own health. 

Priorities(highest to lowest): Health

Duration: 1 to 3 months.

Phase 2(Education & Employment): 

Phase 1 will continue while incorporating Education and Employment. This phase is about bringing structure and purpose. 

Education: the purpose is to build valuable skill-sets that a future employer would need that can be provided within the remaining 9 months. Since the trades have both short-term and long-term high demand, these veterans will have their choice of which trade program they will enroll into.

Internal to the Farm Employment: The veteran will be employed on the farm, performing general orchard care, grounds keeping, other tasks that can be done flexibly around their higher priority items. With the work they are performing, they are making a living wage and saving as much as possible. The typical day would start at 6 a.m., starting with exercise, then breakfast, then proceeding through their schedule.

Priorities(highest to lowest): Health - Education - Employment

Duration: 6 to 8 months. 

Phase 3(Independence):

Building on the previous phases, this phase focuses more on the long-term support structure the veteran needs for after the program completes.

Transportation: During this phase, a reliable used vehicle is provided to them to get around on their own. 

Financial classes: Since they've accrued a substantial amount of money not having to spend anything on their needs for the past two phases, we want to ensure they make wise choices with their money going forwards to ensure they don't put themselves back into a bad situation. 

External Employment: With the trade schools they learned in the previous phase, employment opportunities and employer collaboration on moving them into employment with them will begin.

Food & Housing:  At the end of the program, all of the basic housing needs they need to get started are provided at no expense to the veteran. An apartment they'll rent will be found close to their external employment and amenities. As soon as they are ready, they'll make the transition to their new housing. 

Sustaining Communal Structure: Even after they have left the program, they are always welcome to come back and visit. The purpose of this is that they know they belong to something particularly meaningful to them and not ever shut out of that. They can also see who is going through struggles like they did and help them too, which is a very rewarding experience in itself.

Priorities(highest to lowest): Health - Education - Employment

Duration: 1 to 3 Months. Longer as necessary.

Our Future Plans

How well does this scale?

As we grow this program by expanding our farming operations. this will continue to expand. Once we have the capacity for 12 homeless veterans at a time, we will start staging 1 veteran coming in each month. This way, 12 will remain in the program at one time constantly yet the more tenured veterans nearing the end of their program will be there for the new veterans coming in. This will help to build camaraderie, cohesion, teamwork within the group, and help to reduce some of the barriers that people innately put up when others are helping them.

Initial Stage: Until about year 5, we will employ 1-2 homeless veterans each year.

Growth Stage: In year 5, we intend to scale this up to 12 since our farm will grow from a 4 acre Orchard up to 24 acres. In year 7, the farm is planned to grow to 50 acres and 24 homeless veterans. By 2030, we are aiming to grow to 640 acres and up to 60 homeless veterans being employed on our farm each year.

Robotics Company divergence: In 2026, after the developed robotics have finalized their field testing, major product changes, and commercialization, another company will be started focused on the manufacturing of the robotics structure we've developed and built. The goal is by 2030 to employ another 80 homeless veterans each year.

Questions

I have questions about this!

We bet and hope you do, so here's some of the quick answers to common questions as well as how to find out more.

How do you fund something like this?  This is funded largely in people buying our Products and Services. Every product you buy and every service you request of us, helps us to do more. As our farm grows in size and scale, so does this program. 

What if I have questions?   If you have questions, we have answered many of them that have been asked by our friends, family, colleagues, and customers in our FAQ, located here. It will be updated often as people ask questions. You are also welcome to contact us and ask any other questions you may have!

What if I have ideas to help?   We are always looking for positive feedback on how to make this Program better. 

What if I want to help?

  • The things we'd love to have external help with is people to be engaged with these veterans as they go through their transformation. Coming over and spending time with them will help.
  • If you are seeking to be employed by us, we may be interested. It's our company policy to not post jobs publicly, rather we would like to see what skill sets you have and may reach out to you further engage if the need is there.

Ready to help?

The easiest way to help is to buy our products. As a result of your purchase, this is what your purchase does:

  • Every purchase helps a homeless veterans in our program today and tomorrow be able to return to a healthy, sustainable, life.
  • Every purchase helps to grow the organization so that we can help even more homeless veterans every year. This in turn helps:
    • The Department of Veteran Affairs VHRP and VORP programs. 
    • Homeless Shelters 
    • Outreach initiatives by all organizations to keep unsheltered homeless veterans off the streets.
  • Promote Climate Positive Initiatives. We are not striving to be just carbon neutral, we are aiming for the gold standard: Climate Positive.
    • Being a Climate Positive company means we absorb more carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases than we emit. 
  • Community Positive Impact. Helping to bring our society forwards through caring for our friends, family, and neighbors.
  • Organic certified produce is truly better for your family and you. Scientifically and medically proven true.

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