Over 40 percent of the veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars hailed from small towns and rural areas, and many now want to farm or ranch. Last year we conducted a series of workshops for Armed Services veterans to help them get started in farming and ranching (http://www.cfra.org/veteran_farmers_project).
Our workshops for veterans provided face-to-face meetings between veterans and resource providers, conversations with farmers, and information on resources and strategies to begin farming and ranching. We included classroom sessions, farm tours, and a web broadcast with virtual farm tours. Kansas Farmers Union, our major partner on the project, held sessions in Kansas and the activities were funded by USDA Risk Management Agency.
We have not been alone in our outreach to veterans. We’ve also engaged state AgrAbility projects, which provide technical advice to disabled farmers and helped serve many of the participants in our workshops who are experiencing some form of disability… a welcome encouragement that farming dreams can be realized despite physical or emotional disability.
Veterans preferred to attend these sessions alongside other veterans, feeling that other veterans would understand and support them because of their shared experiences. Our virtual farm tour with former Marine Garrett Dwyer became an example of the intense interest his success generated among other veterans.
We owe a great debt to the men and women who served in our country’s military, and the Center for Rural Affairs hopes to continue and expand upon this work in their honor.
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