Memorial Day isn’t just for BBQ’s and fireworks, it’s a day to reflect on the lives of the men and women who have given all to protect our country. We thank each man and woman for providing our families with a safe place to live and work. Without them, our lives would be very different and we are proud to live in a place with so many great people willing to stand up for their neighbor.
Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, and from many different walks of life. Did you know: 16% of the U.S. population is from rural America, yet 40% of the U.S. military is from those same rural communities? In honor of the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice, we’re spreading the word about some Veteran Farmers and the programs that helped make their new challenge of running an ag operation a success.
For many veterans returning home from service, acclimating to the civilian environment they’ve missed for so long is a very difficult task. They feel an immense pressure to return to their community, support their family, and carry on their lives. In this article, Stacey Neece, U.S. Air Force Veteran, returns to West Virginia after nine years of service. Upon her return, she began experiencing cluster headaches from stress related to her post-military concerns. After getting in touch with West Virginia Department of Agriculture’s Veterans and Warriors to Agriculture program, she found the cure to her headaches: beekeeping.
A program developed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology, Armed to Farm is a veteran outreach program that aims to train veterans on how to operate sustainable enterprises, create a network of veterans and their families starting careers in ag, and to provide technical assistance to participants as they start and improve their operations.
Our market is seeing a trend in consumers becoming increasingly more interested in where their food comes from and how it’s produced. Homegrown by Heroes is a marketing initiative that helps consumers identify an agribusiness and its products as being locally grown or raised by a veteran. The program was founded by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture in 2013 and since has grown to over 250 members in 43 states.
Last, but certainly not least, we urge you to check out Volume 19, Issue 4 of our Leader magazine, “Heroes in the Field”. In this issue, we take an in depth look at four members who have found great success in ag after serving their country in many different branches of the military.
Know a veteran that might find farming beneficial? Make sure to share this article with them!