Our Vision: How can we get veterans into farming?

We have talked about our Mission in depth – simply put, it is to train and equip veterans to translate their talents from the field to the farm. Broadly, our goal is to help Veterans rehabilitate and reintegrate through agriculture. However, our vision expands beyond the individual farm, and looks to create a network of interdependent and self-sufficient veteran-owned farms practicing sustainable agriculture through community based education and production.

This means that through the Dauntless Veteran Foundation veterans will be given the opportunity to start their own farms. To do this we will give them the experience necessary to qualify for their own first-time-farmer loan through the USDA; which requires three years experience managing a particular crop. The USDA waives one year for veteran status, so veterans just need two years of experience farming to qualify.

DVF will not only provide experience through partnering farms, but will also provide scholarships to agricultural programs across the country. In addition, DVF will assist with job placement in agriculture and related industries. For those farmer-veterans that complete our program and are successful in securing their own farm, DVF will help that farmer-veteran network to find a value added producer to buy the commodity they are growing. We already have avenues for grapes and orchards, but are looking to expand into grains, hops, and other specialty crops.

How else can we entice veterans to take up agriculture?

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September is Suicide Awareness Month

I personally struggled with depression and suicide during my rocky transition out of the military.  I nearly became a statistic had it not been for the network of people that helped me break through the hopelessness and disconnection that that so often leads to suicide. I was fortunate to have a network of friends and loved ones because some don’t or at least believe they don’t.

Suicide affects all people and some groups like veterans and farmers are disproportionately affected by this problem.  Veterans and farmers alike are facing an increase in suicide rates.

September is Suicide Awareness Month and we at DVF would like to remind everyone of some sobering facts:

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How does working the land benefit the health and wellness of our veterans?

Did you know that almost a quarter of all veterans in the US return from active military careers to reside in rural communities? The opportunities from living and working in rural communities range from lower costs of living to the multiple health benefits of working in nature and having accessible means to outdoor recreation. 

Having access to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it also contributes to your physical wellbeing. Being in nature has proven to reduce blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones. It has been scientifically proven that being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. 

Time in nature increases our ability to pay attention. As humans, we find nature inherently interesting, we can naturally focus on what we are experiencing out in nature. This also provides a respite for our overactive minds, refreshing us for new tasks. Having the privilege of working the land offers us an opportunity to reconnect with our ancestral way of life that predates 12,000 years of history and evolution. 

Nature helps us cope with pain. We are genetically programmed to find trees, plants, water, and other natural elements engrossing, we are absorbed by nature scenes and distracted from our pain and discomfort. 

Holistic farming is a perfect therapeutic and professional alternative for veterans to find peace and a meaningful occupation. Studies have shown that healthy soil is home to billions of probiotic bacteria that can regulate mood and mitigate the symptoms of PTSD through the release of serotonin via the gut (or lung) to brain pathway. Not only that, soil can act as a tactile therapy which can help relieve the symptoms of TBI.

The symbiotic connection between veterans and the lands for which they fought for can be a valuable part of nature-based therapeutic programs, made possible through partnerships like the ones offered through DVF

Check out our Programs to learn more about how DVF brings veterans from the field to the farm.