MT. VERNON, KY. (MainStreet) Sonia Kendrick was just 25 in 2003 when she went on an eight-month military tour of Afghanistan, but her Post Traumatic Stress Disorder didn't hit until four years after her return, a delayed onset of panic attacks and insomnia.
"I thought that I could just come off the battlefield, re-enter public life and be fine," she said. "But the reality of it is, I'm not ever going to be able to enter into the public forum." She had two children with her husband shortly following her return, but after 15 years, her marriage couldn't withstand the toll the war had taken on her as she struggled with alcoholism and PTSD.
Farming, and hemp cultivation in particular, may provide solace. Earlier in May, the 37-year-old, who runs an agricultural organization called Feed Iowa First and serves as an advocate for the expansion of industrial hemp, attended a pro-hemp event in Mt. Vernon, Ky., put on by Vote Hemp and Growing Warriors, an agricultural organization for veterans.
"This hemp is no new crop -- our Founding Fathers grew this stuff," she said. "I think that as a veteran with the education that I have been allowed to receive that I have a responsibility to my community to try to change the paradigm."
Hemp advocacy and this therapeutic bent to agriculture both come to a head in Healing Grounds, an organization started this year by Fred-Curtis Lewis, a 36-year-old vet whose brother, Mike, founded Growing warriors in 2012. Lewis was shot in the helmet in Afghanistan in 2008 while serving as a Special Forces medical sergeant, but he believes CBD, the cannabidiol found in both marijuana and industrial hemp, can help with his own PTSD. He discovered the power of cannabis while in Washington state, where medical marijuana is legal.