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A Salute to our Nation's Veterans

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Washington, November 11, 2015 | comments

Today our nation recognizes the more than 25 million veterans who have worn the uniform and upheld their oath to defend America with honor and integrity. On November 11, 1918, the Allied Powers and Germany signed an armistice that ended World War I. To commemorate the war’s end, President Woodrow Wilson declared that November 11should be remembered as Armistice Day – a holiday to honor the brave sacrifices of the American soldiers who defended democracy and freedom overseas. Today, we know it as Veterans Day.

As a member of the House Armed Services Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, I am always focused on ways to support and provide for the men and women who have served in the armed forces, whether past or present. Now, as Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, I’ve had the honor of meeting many veterans whose contributions to our country go well beyond their actions on the battlefield. Many have gone from defending our soil to now working our soil.

Veterans possess a unique set of skills and the character needed in agricultural communities. Rigorous military training instills in them a determination to succeed, a commitment to finish what they start, and the discipline necessary for long-term missions, whether it’s fighting the war on terror or growing and creating food systems. Likewise, a life devoted to agriculture is one that offers purpose, opportunity, and a sense of being a part of something larger than one’s self. Both of these career paths are callings. They are not 9-5 jobs with set hours, stable conditions, or any guarantees. However, both are essential to every American’s livelihood.

There are many wonderful organizations and charities around the country that realize this bond between agriculture and veterans and assist the transition from military to civilian life. The Farmer Veteran Coalition, for example, operates the Homegrown by Heroes program, a product labeling program that identifies, promotes and supports agricultural products grown and raised by U.S. veterans and those still serving in any branch of the U.S. military. Only one year into its operation, Homegrown by Heroes includes more than 165 farmers and ranchers across 43 states. I had the honor of meeting many farmer veterans who participate in Homegrown by Heroes earlier this year who spoke to the immense value this program is to their new businesses’ success.

Other organizations, like the American Farm Bureau’s Patriot Project connect service men and women with experienced Farm Bureau members for a mentorship that helps new farmers succeed. Programs like Combat Boots to Cowboy Boots, Troops to Tractors, Ground Operations, and many others nationwide offer various resources to veterans facing a daunting job market requiring skill sets quite unlike their own. I’m encouraged by the ingenuity of these programs and organizations that provide help, resources, and support for veterans while strengthening rural communities literally from the ground up.

One of the best ways we can honor the service and sacrifice of those who have worn the uniform is to support them and their families as best we can when they return to civilian life. Veterans are our fathers, our sons, our sisters and mothers. They are our neighbors and our friends. Their service has made our nation safer and more secure. To any veteran reading this message, thank you for your admirable service and for contributing to the greatest legacy of heroism and patriotism the world will ever know. May God continue to bless our troops, our veterans, and the United States of America.
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