AFR LEAD Golf Tourney Raises $10K for Deserving Veterans Seeking Involvement in the Ag IndustryFri, 18 Aug 2017 15:42:13 CDT
On Thursday of this week, American Farmers and Ranchers’ LEAD group, hosted its annual golf tournament, benefiting the Farmer Veteran Coalition. During the tournament, AFR LEAD was able to raise approximately $10,000 for the FVC. At the event, Sam Knipp of AFR spoke with a member of the coalition, Major Joel Heinzeroth, who retired this summer after a 20-year career with the US Army, most recently stationed at Fort Sill in Southwest Oklahoma. You can hear their complete conversation by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
“Farmer Veteran Coalition is what we call a VSO, or a veteran service organization,” Heinzeroth explained. “Their intent is to help veterans that are leaving the military who have a passion for agriculture.”
He went on to explain, that the FVC offers tools and training to help vets find placement in the agricultural industry, either through grants to help them set up their own operation or helping to secure internships or jobs with ag-based companies. Heinzeroth says there are many vet-oriented organizations out there today, but not many that help veterans move on professionally after their military career.
“The military prepares you for everything you need to do to fight and win our nation’s wars,” he said. “But there’s a gap - whether it’s Wounded Warrior Project or anything else for veterans, who are getting out of the military on what to do next.”
For Heinzeroth, he says his career was winding down, and he had hopes of making his cattle operation, in the small town of Cooperton, Oklahoma viable after he fully retired from the Army. That’s when he says he discovered FVC. After applying to become a fellow with the organization that began around the same time as Operation Iraqi Freedom, Heinzeroth was awarded a $5,000 grant to acquire equipment for his ranching operation. In return, he makes his time available to help and mentor other veterans seeking placement in the ag business.
“We kind of grow our own members and we empower them to help future members,” he said, talking about how he began his operation with his wife Kodi, and two children Emma and Rhett. “We run a cow/calf operation of about 50 mama cows and anywhere from 30 to 40 replacement heifers that we keep back and breed to sell calves and replacement heifers.”
Originally from a farming family in Iowa, Heinzeroth fell in love with Oklahoma while serving at Fort Sill near Lawton. He says he is proud to be a part of the FVC that has helped him return to his roots. He also thanked AFR for their interest in helping FVC spread the word about the good works of the organization.
“Now that my army career is over, I’m building an operation that I can hopefully pass on to my kids,” he remarked, thoughtfully. “I want to have a place in this world where my kids can always call home.”
You can learn more about the Farmer Veteran Coalition by visiting the organization's webpage, here. Check out Knipp's coverage of this week's golf tournament, hosted by AFR's LEAD program, here.
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