As 2012 draws to a close, the Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC) asks everyone to take time to remember those who have served, are still serving, and those who are deployed. This year we also give thanks to the growing number of military veterans that continue to serve their country by growing our food.
Army Captain Jamie Critelli served many overseas deployments, including Iraq, before returning home in 2006 to start Floral Beauty Nursery in New York State. His poinsettias, seen above, will adorn many homes this Christmas season. Jamie is currently a candidate for our Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund.
Marine veteran Jon Olson was medically discharged after numerous combat tours, including Iraq. He returned to the Olson-Davis family farm in Pecan Gap, Texas, to bring back a family legacy of pecan production dating back to the 1800’s. As a grantee in the Farmer Fellowship Fund, Jon will begin to grow his pecan business. For the second year in a row our Fellowship Fund will distribute more than $100,000 in small grants to Farmer Veterans, many of whom have overcome their wounds of war through farming.
This past July, FVC held the first-ever national gathering for women veterans in agriculture. Our conference, “Empowering Women Veterans: Business, Agriculture & Well-Being”, was funded by the USDA Risk Management Agency, and was very well received by the women veterans who attended. We celebrate our growing number of women veterans and look forward to more women veteran specific programming in 2013.
The Farmer Veteran Coalition prides itself in how much we do with how little. Not only has our staff grown, but we will be opening new chapters and offices in other parts of the country. In 2013 we are also launching our new website and online forum, as well as a used farm equipment donation program.
During the first five years FVC worked to make farming a visible opportunity for veterans. Our focus going forward is helping and guiding those who have chosen agriculture, to successfully launch their businesses.
If you are able to help us, it is between now and the end of the year that we are in most need of your support. Having funds to start the New Year will allow FVC to grow our projects, maintain our staff and help those who have given so much, as they find a new way to continue serving.
The FVC Staff