Farmer Veteran

Farmer Veteran

Mon, 05/29/2017 - 10:00pm - 11:00pm

U.S. Army veteran Alex Sutton cradles a rock dove show pigeon, one of many heritage poultry breeds being raised on his 43 acre farm in Moore County, North Carolina in the spring of 2012.


Credit: Courtesy of Farmer/Veteran

To cultivate his healing from post-traumatic stress disorder, an Army combat veteran starts a farm and explores its potential in Farmer/Veteran from Independent Lens.

Happiness is a warm chick for Army combat veteran Alex Sutton. Holding a hatching bird in his hands, Alex can imagine a normal life beyond his debilitating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Emboldened by the notion of giving life rather than taking it, and with the unwavering support of his girlfriend, Jessica, Alex decided to become a farmer in the spring of 2012. He met Jessica only two years earlier, after replying to her Craigslist personals post seeking a fishing buddy; now they are hatching hundreds of birds, turning over the soil, and acquiring a wide range of livestock to graze on 43 acres in rural North Carolina. Farmer/Veteran airs on WXXI-TV as part of Independent Lens on Monday, May 29, 2017 at 10-11pm.

Rated 70 percent disabled by the Veteran’s Administration for PTSD incurred over multiple deployments in Iraq, Alex relies on a multitude of prescription meds to help regulate his drastic changes in mood. The reality of farm life, easily romanticized at the outset, begins to take its toll as demanding work irritates old wartime injuries and the isolation keeps him on high alert. After Alex and Jessica are married and then prepare for their daughter to arrive, Alex struggles more than ever with nightmares of war, uncertain if he can ever transition from being a soldier into the new life he desires more than anything.

Farmer/Veteran examines the healing potential of agriculture while revealing painful truths about the contradictory lives of veterans, aching for the intensity of war while struggling to find a new purpose.

Film Trailer |Independent Lens Clip