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Secretary's Column: Honoring Rural Troops This Holiday Season

Posted by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in Rural
Feb 21, 2017

As they have in years past, tens of thousands of American troops will celebrate the holidays overseas. Many of them call our nation’s rural communities home.  So it is important – especially in this season – to remember those men and women who defend our nation.

There is one notable difference this year.  At President Obama’s direction, after nearly a decade at war, we are moving forward so that all American troops will be out of Iraq to reunite with their families for the holidays.  We should never forget the sacrifices of the more than one million men and women of the United States armed forces who served in Iraq, and the sacrifices of their families.  We are indebted to them, and proud of their efforts.

USDA has a strong connection with our nation’s military.  Today, about 6.1 million veterans live in rural communities, a higher concentration than anywhere else in the country.  And the men and women who serve this nation in uniform share a belief with farmers that a nation is like the land itself – you cannot continually take from it without giving back.

Over nearly 3 years, the Obama administration has worked to improve the quality of life for our veterans in rural communities and elsewhere.  We’ve strengthened the VA health care system, and helped hundreds of thousands of rural veterans with education benefits and with purchasing a home.   Recently, President Obama signed legislation to help unemployed veterans find jobs.

As you spend time with family this holiday season, please take a moment to think of those who aren’t able to do so because they are serving us overseas.  Let us draw strength from our service men and women, so we may work – as they do – to build better communities and a stronger nation.

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Category/Topic: Rural

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Mark L.Kelley
Jan 04, 2012

As we look back at successes of 2011, this MOU signing is one that I will remember. This summer, USDA Rural Development New York State Director Jill Harvey and St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Chiefs, Ronald Lafrance Jr, Randy The St. Regis Mohawk tribe.

This MOU will enable USDA to offer all SFH Programs on St. Regis Mohawk lands to include: Section 502 Direct, the acquisition and rehabilitation of existing homes for low and moderate income families on the Akwesasne tribal lands. I am a Mortgage Broker that is very grateful and excited to hear this. What if some one lives on this land but is not Indian ?I was a broke that did not like being told I can't lend and so I like this.However if USDA can do it in South Dakota etc , I am hoping other states like oregon will start opening some doors ? Thank you USDA and President Obama. I just realized that Hillary Clinton must have been in on this, Great but lets help every state ok I am a Mortgage Professional of 15 years. Sincerely Mark l.Kelley