“Comfort Farms” is a powerful feature-length documentary coming soon to a screen near you.
Accompanied by an unlikely group of veterans, animal-loving butchers, farmers and chefs, a former combat army Ranger launches a new mission at Comfort Farms—a unique therapy farm meant to help those at high risk for suicide.
An unlikely group of Veterans, butchers, farmers, chefs and activists come together at Comfort Farms—a unique Veteran therapy based farm in central Georgia. After Interviews with combat Veterans who tell their stories and attempt to set the record straight with respect to what it means to be a Veteran, and an introduction to a butcher and food activists who wants to do the same with respect to his vocation, the narrative eventually comes to focus mostly on former combat Army Ranger Jon Jackson. Jon attempted to take his life after returning home after six tours overseas and “loosing his sense of purpose of what it means to be a warrior”. But Jon took a stand and developed Comfort Farms, a sustainable therapy farm set up to serve the community and his fellow Veterans, many of which suffer from the same lack of purpose. The farm is named after his fallen Ranger brother Captain Kyle Comfort. However, the name, like so much of the story, is a kind of paradox. It’s revealed that Comfort Farms is not meant to be a place of comfort, but a place where people move out of their comfort zone and confront the reality of things like death, truth, love, and sacrifice. Through a variety of narratives we hear the perspectives of various characters and combat Veterans, including a Veteran turned therapist and another who fought in the Philippines during WW2, a butcher and chef who’s a proponent of humane animal slaughter, and the perspective of farm founder Jon Jackson who’s focus is on a unique form of agro-cognitive behavioral therapy and challenging culture to respect what they eat. These narratives come together and form an interesting juxtaposition that bring up a number of interesting questions, not just about Veterans’ issues per se, but about the human condition, the nature of sacrifice, love, life, death and triumph.
An unlikely group of Veterans, butchers, farmers, chefs and activists come together at Comfort Farms—a unique Veteran therapy based farm in central Georgia. After Interviews with combat Veterans who tell their stories and attempt to set the record straight with respect to what it means to be a Veteran, and an introduction to a butcher and food activists who wants to do the same with respect to his vocation, the narrative eventually comes to focus mostly on former combat Army Ranger Jon Jackson. It’s revealed that after serving six tours in the desert as a US Army Ranger and losing a bunch of buddies along the way, Jon Jackson watched his last sunset, sitting in his room, feeling like he’d lost what it means to be a warrior, gun in his lap-ready to end it all. But his young son walked in the room, and he came to a realization.
He realized that although PTSD is a real thing, it’s only one of many things leading to the post-war death of so many of his brothers and sisters. At war you a have a clear and defined mission, you know what you’re doing and find purpose in doing it. A combat soldier experiences extreme ups and downs, returning home to the “grey” of the civilian world is a shock to a lot of these guys. Jon noticed the parallels between combat and farming. Instead of fighting a human enemy, the battle is against the elements, and most directly against ones’ own self. And through trial and error he set out to build a non-profit from scratch, in Milledgeville, Georgia, a place known for being home to the old state asylum and the home of the late famed fiction writer Flannery O’Connor. Using his resourcefulness as an army ranger, he developed a new kind of therapy program using agriculture, farming, and humane animal harvesting to help transition down and out Veterans back to the world of grey, a world quite different from the intense black and white world of military life. Jon plans to use his “agro-cognitive behavioral therapy” to condition Veterans back into society, much the same way the military conditions them to be soldiers. It’s revealed that Comfort Farms, named after his fallen buddy Captain Kyle Comfort, is not a place of comfort at all, but a place meant to pull people out of their comfort zone. This is one of many paradoxes that come up in this multidimensional documentary. Jon joins up with Bryan Kyzer, a Louisiana chef, and expert in the way of humane, spiritual animal slaughter. According to Bryan, animals should know they’re loved, and their sacrifice should be respected. It’s essential that people know what goes on behind the scenes. That people realize where their food comes from, that an animal is losing its life for our sustenance. According to Bryan and Jon, the nature of the world is that something has to die for something else to live. A plant, an animal, even human beings have to die to make room for others. Instead of avoiding these truths, they should be faced straight on and even celebrated in certain cases. As things progress, Comfort Farms attracts some of the most notable chefs in the nation. Not only Veterans but all walks of life start to converge on Comfort Farms, country folks, curious neighbors, and big-city hipsters looking for truth and simplicity. Throughout the film, we hear the perspective of a number of Veterans. We hear from World War 2 combat Veteran Forest Giles Jr. who talks of the difficulties of returning home from the war in his day and the importance of taking care of our Veterans now. We hear from several Veterans who offer surprising reasons for why they and others have had such a tough time transitioning back to society. Although PTSD is a real thing, it’s by far the only thing. Many of these other issues often fall by the wayside. Misdiagnosed with PTSD, it’s often overlooked that perhaps a soldier simply feels a lack of purpose after leaving a life with a clear and defined mission, a hands-on black and white world that has a kind of built-in purpose. A world of extreme ups and downs. According to Jon, Veterans, most importantly, want a chance to serve again, to find meaning in what they do. Featuring music by Benji Hughes and Merge recording artists The Love Language and others, the film takes on a kind of poetic tone, juxtaposing several narratives to draw out a deeper question and explore this interesting slice of American culture. Comfort Farms is not just a film about a single place or person or PTSD and Veterans issues per se, but a film about the human condition, the nature of sacrifice, love, life, and death.