Garrett Dwyer, a Marine veteran who turned to ranching in Nebraska after working with the Combat Boots to Cowboy Boots program. (Photo by Bill Kelly)
WANTED: A dedicated worker familiar with intense physical labor. Must possess the ability to organize, anticipate pitfalls and plan ahead. Only those comfortable with individual responsibility and leadership skills need apply.
A want-ad for a farmer or a member of the military?
About 6.1 million veterans live in rural communities, according to the USDA, which is "a higher concentration than anywhere else in the country," so they're already living in farm country.
The USDA's Risk Management Agencycreated a grant-funded program designed to teach returning veterans the skills they need to become farmers, which could help put vets in rural communities to work.
“The long-term goal for this project is to help new veteran farmers and ranchers successfully establish farms and ranches in Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado and Missouri,” Kathie Starkweather, with the Center for Rural Affairs, said in a release.
With the skills they learn in the armed forces, veterans are suited to any number of careers. Yet, the unemployment rate for veterans stands at 12.1 percent, about 3 percentage points higher than for non-vets, and some estimates put the unemployment rate for veterans aged 18-24 at a shocking 30.1 percent.
Across the country this Veteran's Day, many vets will return home from ceremonies honoring their sacrifices and turn to the job listings in their local paper. Hopefully, many of them will be out in the field by next harvest.