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Veterans find comfort in strawberry fields

It is a far cry from the rugged terrain and battlefields of Afghanistan, where Andrew Miller spent time before finally stepping away last year from the army as a captain. He has been trying to figure out the next chapter of his life ever since.
Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - It is a far cry from the rugged terrain and battlefields of Afghanistan, where Andrew Miller spent time before finally stepping away last year from the army as a captain. He has been trying to figure out the next chapter of his life ever since.

Miller, who spent six years in the Army, is now the Agriculture and Culinary Director for Clear Path for Veterans and says leaving the routine of military life and coming back home can be tough.

"You say, ‘Hi, I'm Andrew.’ They say, ‘Hi, I'm so and so. What do you do?’ I don't know, maybe I'm going to school for a little bit right now, maybe I'm volunteering somewhere. Your sense of identity, who you are in the world, completely changes,” Miller said.

Like many others who have served, Miller found Clear Path for Veterans just outside of Manlius. He came to it just after they planted a strawberry field. For someone who has a love of cooking, Miller says it was a perfect fit.

"Coming out here, learning about agriculture, it’s very therapeutic to go out there and just pick some strawberries. It’s actually quite lovely,” Miller said.

Jimmy Golub, the owner of Our Farm, helped with planting and said more people should get involved with aiding veterans.

"We can't forget these guys that have served us. This is a way of helping support that’s not just financially but hopefully vets will get involved in this whole process,” Golub said.

"Maybe they just pick some berries and leave, or maybe they ask me what we're doing here, why we're a non-profit, what we're about. Yesterday a veteran walked in who had never heard of this place and I got to tell him," said Miller.

The plants went in the ground May of last year and they are producing now. It shows that it takes quite a bit of work and the veterans are literally witnessing the fruits of their labor.

“It’s not just about fixing veterans. You don't fix a veteran. A veteran comes home and becomes part of the community again,” Miller said.

Unexpectedly, strawberries may be a way of helping to do just that.

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