Big Red Barn Retreat Cooks Up Farm-to-Table Program

[BLYTHEWOOD SC] – The power of food will be medicine for local Veterans, Active-Duty Service Members and First Responders as they retreat to the Big Red Barn. There, they will learn more about nutrition and wellness practices thanks to Colonial Life, a subsidiary of Unum Group, that awarded $23,497 to the organization’s Farm-to-Table program.


The Big Red Barn Retreat integrates  programs to help warriors  thrive at home after traumatic experiences. To combat this, Big Red Barn is now hosting free monthly on-site cooking classes for participants.


Jason Dersch will be the lead chef. He is a 14-year Army Vet who received his Culinary Arts degree from Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Academy. Dersch will guide participants to healthier wellness practices, including how to recognize the value of cooking nutritious meals. The former restaurant owner will also encourage attendees to evaluate their current eating habits so they can incorporate wholesome meal planning into their daily lives.


Dersch is also a Warrior PATHH Guide with Big Red Barn Retreat. He said, “Cooking is my number one wellness practice. It helps me to connect by translating the technical aspect of cooking to the emotional aspect of being able to connect with those I care about in a way that words sometimes don’t seem to convey sufficiently. This connecting of the head and the heart is pivotal in the transformation from Post-Traumatic Stress to Post-Traumatic Growth.”


Colonial Life helps local organizations build better communities. Veterans, service members and first responders are disproportionally at risk to adverse health outcomes as many suffer from anxiety, depression and PTSD. This program is set to engage veterans in a variety of cooking activities to help regulate their thoughts, feelings and emotions so they can live a life of purpose and connection.


About The Big Red Barn Retreat – The Big Red Barn Retreat (BRBR) is a 501(c)(3) located in Blythewood, South Carolina that provides free therapeutic services, programs, and training to Veterans, Active-Duty service members, and First Responders struggling with combat-related or critical incident related stress.  Established in 2014, the BRBR helps more than 2,500 military and first responders personnel annually.  All services provided at the BRBR are funded through grants and private donations.  For more information, please visit or email


About Colonial Life


Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company, a subsidiary of Unum Group, provides financial protection benefits to America’s workers and their families when the unexpected happens. The company offers workplace benefits, including disability, life, accident, dental, cancer, critical illness and hospital confinement indemnity insurance. Colonial Life’s benefit services, education and innovative enrollment technology supports over 87,000 businesses and 4 million workers. In 2021, Colonial Life paid $800 million in benefits to policyholders. 


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