Monarch butterflies are being wiped out. These combat veterans are trying to save them.

Guardian Grange looks to provide a safety net for veterans while teaching them about conservation, sustainability and regenerative agriculture.

When Mark Matzeldelaflor left the military more than a decade ago, he spent years searching for something that filled him with the same sense of purpose as being a Navy SEAL.

After serving a couple tours in Iraq, including as an elite sniper, he returned home and took up odd jobs — “just wandering and doing random stuff to make some money to pay the rent,” he said. Then, on a whim, he said that he tried “magic mushrooms” for the first time with a friend and that the psychedelic awakened in him a new resolve.

“I just reconnected to nature and my past, where I was like a kid in the woods,” Matzeldelaflor said. “And I realized there’s so much healing in being outside in nature, getting your hands in the dirt and doing good work.”

Last year, the 37-year-old turned that realization into a nonprofit organization called Guardian Grange, which aims to use nature to help veterans cope with trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder and other issues that come with transitioning back to civilian life.

“When you’ve been in a combat role, like myself, you get out and there’s nothing that correlates,” he said. “You have these abilities but there’s no stepping stone to something else. And that can lead to all kinds of issues with drinking, self-medicating, suicides and all that stuff.”

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