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Farming success story is "Dang" good.

Every time Marine Corps veteran Mike Hanes got excited about a new recipe for his hot sauce, the chance to get it bottled or the plans by Whole Foods to distribute the sauce, his exclamation was always the same, "Dang!"

So it should come as no surprise that Dang!!! hot sauce is what customers can find on the label of Hanes new all-natural hot sauce.

"It's a southern expression," said Hanes, who was born in Marietta, Ga. "Sometimes it's a curse, sometimes it is for joy."

Lately, most of the "dangs" in Hanes life have been the good variety. The former recon Marine is working on a nationwide rollout of his new hot sauce that will include a Nov. 10 kickoff at Whole Foods in honor of the Marine Corps' birthday.

A decorated combat veteran who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Hanes is one of many success stories from Archi's Acres and the Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training (VSAT) program. And something about his journey from combat to homelessness to entrepreneur is uniquely American.

Hanes enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1994 and served four years as a communications operator, establishing field communications for war fighters. He left the Marines for one year before re-enlisting in 2000, where he plied his radio work for 1st Force Recon out of Camp Pendleton, Calif.

But his elite-level military service didn't prepare Hanes for transitioning out of the military service with post-traumatic stress disorder.

"A drill instructor shot himself in the head while I was in the pool doing swim qualification at (Marine Corps Recruit Training Depot) Parris Island, and I just had to push that down and move on," Hanes said. "In the military, you carry a stigma if you complain about mental trauma. But years later in Iraq, I saw someone suffer a head wound, and it all came back to me." Shortly after getting out of the Marines in 2004, Hanes became a homeless college student.

"I went to college and studied in the computer lab at night," Hanes recalled. "But I left school and curled up under a bush to sleep every night."

Hanes said he hid his homelessness from his family, who had tried in many ways to help him cope with post-combat stress.

Hanes eventually found employment at a raw food store in southern California. While there, he developed a philosophy about health and nutrition that continues to influence him today.

"You are what you eat. We've all heard that one before," Hanes said. "I try to eat foods that are more alive and wild."

Once Hanes met the Archipleys, the last piece of the puzzle fell into place. He and Colin hit it off right away and trusted each other as only combat veterans and Marines can.

With training and support from Archi's Acres, Hanes was able to develop his passion for natural foods into a business plan. Then he turned to Karen Archipley for assistance.

"Karen seems to know everyone in the business," said Hanes, who was linked up by Karen to everyone from Whole Foods distributors to graphic artists. "No matter what you need, she always says 1 know the perfect person for that.'"

Hanes isn't surprised that the DAV has stepped in to assist Archi's Acres fund their VSAT program. He was assisted by the DAV at a crucial time in his life.

"The DAV really came through for me when I had nowhere else to turn," Hanes said. "I had spent a lot of time trying to figure out my benefits. I wish I'd known all along that it was as easy as turning to the DAV for help."

To check out the latest flavors of Dang!!! hot sauce, go to


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Title Annotation:Mike Hanes
Author:Lewis, Rob
Publication:DAV Magazine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2011
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