When Ivory Smith of Poplarville, Mississippi separated from the Army after ten years of service – including tours in Iraq and Afghanistan – he attended a USDA-sponsored workshop held through our partner, the National Center for Appropriate Technology. At this 'Armed to Farm' workshop for returning Veterans, he learned about small-scale sustainable agricultural practices, and from there developed his microgreens company, SmithPonics, that now supplies fresh salad microgreens to restaurants in his area.
Many of our Veterans, old and young alike, are dealing with the physical and mental scars of combat. USDA Rural Development has been able to provide real support to those Veterans who need care when they return from service – Veterans like Leon Kauzlarich from rural Appanoose County, Iowa. Leon got help to repair his home, and make it accessible to help with his mobility issues.
The Disabled American Veterans chapter in Magoffin County, Kentucky purchased an accessible transport van to shuttle members who need the assistance in the region. They were able to purchase this with the assistance of USDA Rural Development, and now the Disabled American Veterans have the resources to help meet the needs of these men and women.
From a larger perspective, these Veterans are owed a debt we can't fully repay – They made a solemn commitment to defend our families and our freedoms, and it is imperative we return that commitment by providing them assistance now that they're home. Beyond the tangible assistance we do our best to provide, we should also be ever mindful of showing our heartfelt gratitude to these men and women by saying thank you.
This Veterans Day, and in the days and weeks and months afterwards, thank a Veteran for their service – and don't be afraid to fly Old Glory while you're at it. I'd like to say a special thank you to all of the Veterans serving on our staff here at USDA Rural Development, both in DC and across the nation. Thanks for your service to our country as a member of the Armed Forces, and continuing that service today in the USDA.