Veterans looking for next career may find opportunities in rural communities

Farm and Food
Small Business
Small Towns

Transitioning from military to civilian life can be challenging for veterans. As they contemplate what’s next on their career path, the answer may lie in a rural community. 

Returning veterans are a perfect fit for the next generation of rural small business owners, farmers or ranchers. Some, however, face challenges, including difficulty accessing capital and acquiring training. 

But with the help of programs offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), veterans can access the financial and educational resources they need to get ahead. Many programs also offer training and business planning support to help transfer skills developed in the military into a new career. 

For aspiring business owners, USDA Rural Development offers more than 40 loan, grant, and technical assistance programs, including the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP).

A lifeline to small rural businesses nationwide, RMAP supports the development and ongoing success of rural microentrepreneurs and microenterprises. Direct loans and grants are provided to Microenterprise Development Organizations, such as the Center for Rural Affairs, which then provide loans and technical service to microentrepreneurs without access to traditional lenders. RMAP defines a microentrepreneur as a rural sole proprietorship or business with fewer than 10 employees.

For veterans interested in careers in agriculture and agribusiness, USDA’s Farm Service Agency has programs that can provide financial, educational, and training resources, as well as business planning support. Loan programs are also available through the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, with preference given to veteran farmers who support conservation.

A large number of returning veterans have already transitioned into agriculture-related careers. As they prepare for the next step, these programs provide the much-needed financial and technical support. 

In serving their country, our nation’s veterans have shown determination and dedication. With the proper tools, they can show that same determination and dedication in helping build vibrant rural communities.