With a growing number of veterans transitioning from military to civilian life, the need for vocational rehabilitation is in high demand. While the Department of Veterans Affairs has made significant strides in improving access for veterans and providing them with various options to restore employability, there are several cases in which the veteran is either unaware of the options, or unable to utilize the resources available. The VA is aware of these challenges and has made the necessary adjustments, taking into account those veterans who are unable to easily access training courses.
Sterling Heritage is working with the Veterans Benefits Administration to provide effective, personalized, and encouraging one-on-one instruction to farmers in Biloxi and Philadelphia, Mississippi. Our farm instructors have been working with veterans to assess farm conditions and offer recommendations on how best to combat any challenges the veteran farmer may face. Our instructors also offer their expertise on a multitude of farming skills, all of which aid in making the veteran’s farm operational and revenue-generating.
Sterling Heritage’s farming instructors have been working with community youth in Mississippi for several years and are now working with veterans in not only offering instruction and expertise on their existing farms, but also working to educate the veteran on the benefits of transitioning from conventional to organic farming. With the instructor’s extensive knowledge in organic farming, the veteran now has the opportunity to work side-by-side with an established organic farmer and community educator.
In assisting the veterans with their farms, our instructors have also been successful in significantly improving farm conditions for veteran farms. The photo on the right shows several piglets on a veteran’s farm in Biloxi,MS. Because of its geographically location, farmers in Biloxi have greater setbacks in overall farming due to less-than favorable soil conditions. The abundant rainfall and relative humidity oftentimes leads to flooding, which makes it much more difficult for the veteran to effectively use all his or her land for operational farming. Because of this, the veteran’s piglets were at risk of drowning in the flooded farm land. With the help of our farm instructor, the veteran was able to successfully build a safe area for water to quickly drain and reduce the risk of the piglets drowning. The photo on the right shows the happy and healthy piglets that have survived the harmful soil conditions in Biloxi.
Sterling Heritage as a whole is extremely excited and honored to aid the VA in their mission to enhance benefits for veterans, specifically in the area of sustainable farming. To ensure success in this effort, Sterling Heritage VP, Sue Walsh, is in constant contact with case managers at the VBA and our farming instructors to meet the needs of veteran farmers and offer the best possible support to the veteran, our instructors, and our government client. We hope to continue working with the VA on efforts to increase veteran participation in VR&E programs and illustrate our dedication to providing better standards of living for our nation’s veterans. With the right education and instruction, we believe veterans can be the next generation of organic farmers, and we are honored to take part in that journey.