Major Joel Heinzeroth established Heinzeroth Cattle Company in 2004, after returning from his second deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Joel has grown his herd from the six head of cattle he started with to the 50 cattle he now runs on 550 acres near Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

He plans to retire from the Army in 2017, marking the end of a 20-year military career, so he can work on his ranch full-time. He grew up on a 2,000 acre farm in Iowa, and has more than 25 years ranching experience.

“Now, as I step into a new pair of boots, the Farmer Veteran Coalition has already helped me settle in”, says Joel. He is one of the 84 veterans that received funding through FVC’s Fellowship program in 2015. With his Fellowship, Joel purchased a Priefert squeeze chute, and couldn’t be happier.

Executing the ambitious plans that he has laid out for his operation will be a challenge, both physically and financially, but Joel is fine with that because, as he says, “I’d rather invest in my ranch than in the stock market”. In addition to his plans to expand the cattle operation, one of Joel’s greatest ambitions is to pass his ranch on to his daughter, Emma Carol, debt-free. Emma, at five years old, helps on the ranch every way she can. Joel bought 3 Herefords in Emma’s honor, when she was born and Emma’s herd is now 10 head.

Joel encourages other veterans who are considering their post-military career to pursue their passion and always remember, “If you find something you love to do, you will never have to work another day for the rest of your life”.