SEATTLE — They call it dirt therapy. And sometimes it's the only place they feel clean.
Chris Brown never wanted to kill another human being.
"It's either you do. Or you don't, and you die."
At age 17, Brown, a former U.S. Marine, saw unspeakable horror at point-blank range. He served two tours in Iraq.
"You come from an environment where people's lives are ending every day. There's death and horrible things around you all over," he said.
He returned home to Washington with knee, back and brain injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder, and issues.
"He's only been home a few days and we went up to the mall. And we just walked in and he started freaking out within three minutes. He was hyperventilating. He said we gotta go," recalls his mom Brenda.
Brown's dad heard farming had helped a lot of veterans. Chris was intrigued.
"You plant a seed. You see life in the ground. You pick it. You give it to somebody. And they use it to sustain their life."
When this farming novice realized how much digging in the dirt helped him, he wanted to see if it could do the same for his fellow veterans.
"A lotta veterans are still apprehensive to go into a clinic and seek counseling. But they're willing to come out here and pull weeds and talk to the veteran next to 'em. "
He took some agricultural classes and stared the Growing Veterans Farm in Bellingham. Brown and fellow veterans grow everything from carrots to turnips and onions to sell to farmers markets.
"We call it dirt therapy out here. You get your hands dirty. Apparently there are actually microbes in soil that help relieve depression. "
Choking back tears, Chris's dad Ronnie says because of the beets and lettuce and radishes, his son is finally home.
"Compared to what he was when he first got back, it's night and day. We can almost say that, we've got our son back. Yeah."