Homeless Veterans are using Urban Gardening to Heal Invisible Wounds

An Indianapolis U.S army veteran did a lot for his country for about 22 years. Craig Browder, the…
Homeless veterans

An Indianapolis U.S army veteran did a lot for his country for about 22 years. Craig Browder, the army veteran said that he wasn’t forced to join the military. He said that joining the army was a decision he made himself because he wanted to protect people.

At a very young age, Browder had an idea that he would either become a soldier or a police officer, and it was all about serving his community. According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, less than 10 percent of Americans served in the United States military.

 However, one in three homeless men is referred to as a veteran in Indiana, according to Helping Veterans and Families (HVAF). This is an organization that provides tools and support to help veterans survive.

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According to Browder, when things became tough for him and he couldn’t provide for his family, HVAF helped him out.  When talking about homelessness, he said that he felt abandoned and alone a lot of times. He said that the past year and a half have been tough being a father.

It’s hard for a man not to be able to pay his bills, take care of his family, keep a roof, things a man are supposed to do. Now, I’m getting ready to move out of here in a couple of weeks. We got our own apartment, I’m back to work. My wife is now working. HVAF has helped us get on our feet.


Homelessness and war can leave scars, due to this, HVAF started an urban garden for their residents recently. A case manager in HVAF, Amanda Helfrich said she observed that the facility had some space that wasn’t being utilized and thought that was a perfect place for the garden.

I can get real agitated. I don’t want to talk. But I come out here and I just smoke a cigarette and water the plants. It gives me time to calm down and let my mind take over instead of my emotions.


Different plants are planted in this garden. Many homeless veterans and their families use this food grown in the garden rather than going to the food pantry.

You raise these from a little seed and then they grow up. It makes you feel like you did something. And then, when you see the other residents out here and they’re picking peppers and picking tomatoes, you know that you helped someone out.


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