From Tanks to Tractors: Can Vets … Become Farmers?


Farmer Veteran Coalition The biblical metaphor of swords into plowshares is coming true for some returning veterans, thanks to the Farmer-Veteran Coalition.

According to the Coalition’s website, its purpose is to mobilize “our food and farming community to create healthy and viable futures for America’s veterans.”

It does so by providing “employment, training and places to heal on America’s farms for returning veterans.”

Eventually, the Farmer-Veteran Coalition wants “to reach 10,000 veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and support the success of those returning to farming while introducing others to farming as a vocation.”

At the same time, the Coalition wants to rejuvenate farming in America, bringing back or introducing young adults to farming. Rural communities are especially hard hit in the recession. Young adults have left their family farms, seeking employment in busy metro areas. Rural youth disproportionately join the military, adding to the problem. And, current farmers are aging (most are 55 to 58 years old) and looking at retirement.

The Coalition offers apprenticeships, internships, mentoring, and educational programs, helping to place veterans on farms or start their own farms or ranches.

The program is small—but it’s one of many grassroots efforts to help and heal returning veterans.

What other grassroots efforts have you seen? What do you think of the Farmer-Veteran Coalition?

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