From Soldiers to Tillers: Veterans as Farmers - Handmade By Heroes

From Soldiers to Tillers: Veterans as Farmers

August 13, 2017

From Soldiers to Tillers: Veterans as Farmers

The American agriculture industry is in need of farmers! And most American veterans are in need of work. The solution:why not help our veteran heroes exchange their guns to become farm tillers.

This was the proposition that inspired some American charities such as the Farmers Veterans Coalition of Davis, Calif.; Troops to Tractors of western Pennsylvania; and Ground Operations of Ojai, Calif.

These nonprofit organizations have recognized that over the next ten years, the American agriculture industry will need additional work force because of the continuing wave of retirements of older farmers. It is estimated that more than a million farmers will be needed in the next decade. Since there are still many veterans who are having hard time landing a decent job after their military service is over, the veterans’ unique skills that they have acquired in their years of military service will be a great asset if they are hired in the agriculture industry.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, since 2006, the unemployment rate of veterans has doubled from 4% to 8% ever since the recession of 2009. And because of this, Michael O’ Gorman, a longtime California farmer, formed the Farmers Veteran Coalition The said coalition has already worked with more than 5,000 veterans, and has also signed up additional two thousand members.

In 2014, farm legislation was written to help support the veterans financially when they transition into the agricultural life. The Labor Department and Small Business Administration is also a big supporter to the coalition.

The Growing Healthy People a charity located in Illinois also helps returning service men and women by offering internships, scholarships, and education at some local community colleges. These internships, scholarships, and education are hands-on trainings that centers on the different types of agriculture. It also includes seminars on indoor and outdoor gardening. Marshall Fox, a retired Air Force machinist from 1984-1988, said that “being in a charity group like Growing Healthy People, is another way for him to serve his country as well as getting regular and better paycheck and a new career”.

Although agriculture may not be considered as the number one priority for a returning veteran, it can still serve as good therapy for someone who has been doing the same routine job for a while. Agriculture may be also a good outlet and stress reliever for someone who has served and experienced so much as a former serviceman.

In 2005, Marine helicopter crew chief Eric Fries “transitioned out” of the Corps and was honorably discharged. After retiring from service, he went back to school and earned a degree in communication studies from Northwestern University. He has been working as an assessor ever since. But after years of working as an assessor, Erik says that he is “still trying to figure out what to do next. I shut down when I got out.”

Now Erik says that his goal is “to find a job where I can move my family somewhere more remote so we can enjoy life”. Erik also said that he is looking for a simpler life and he feels that a business in small scale farming would be ideal.

Working in agriculture poses a lot of opportunities and it is definitely something transitioning service men and women should not shy away from.




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