LANSING - The Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC) of America, which helps veterans transition from military life to farming life, has formed a Michigan state chapter as part of a nationwide expansion of its organization.
It is one of four state chapters officially launched last Thursday.
"I am personally excited to be part of the Michigan chapter," said former Marine and FVC-Michigan board member Jason Scramlin, who serves as Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) West regional representative. "We will be able to better serve the veterans of our great state with the formation of this chapter.
"My personal mission is to continually improve the agricultural community of Michigan. The Michigan chapter will focus on local events and connecting Michigan veterans to the resources necessary to open their paths into the agricultural industry," he added. "Through outreach, education and value-added services, we hope to help every veteran interested in a career in agriculture find that path."
Kansas, Maine and Vermont also announced the formation of state chapters last week.
FVC, founded in 2008, is a national organization with more than 5,000 members. It assists veterans coping with mental or physical injuries and helps them find careers in agriculture and helps those with farming backgrounds return to that life. It is a privately funded nonprofit that awarded more than $300,000 in fellowship grants last year.
"It is our duty as Americans and Michiganders to ensure those who were willing to give the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms are given the best opportunity to be healthy, productive and contributing members of our communities," FVC-Michigan Executive Director and Army veteran Adam Ingrao said.
"We believe that agriculture is that opportunity."
Ingrao, a Michigan State University PhD student studying agricultural entomology, said agriculture offers an opportunity to promote healing while helping injured veterans readjust to being part of mainstream society.
"Currently, 22 veterans commit suicide per day," Ingrao said. "If we can stop just one of these from happening by helping a vet find purpose and peace on a farm, then all of this work has been worth it."
Michigan is uniquely poised to serve veterans through agriculture.
It is the nation's third-most diverse agricultural state and is home to nearly 660,000 veterans. Veterans, much like farmers, are patriotic and possess a work ethic for farming life, Ingrao said.
"Michigan is in the unique position to help our veterans and our agricultural industry thrive," Ingrao said. "Farming offers our veterans an opportunity to not only build a livelihood through a farm business, but also to address the struggles many have with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and TBI (traumatic brain injury) through connecting with the land and allowing them to have the security and support of their families on the farm."
FVC-Michigan plans to set up an informational booth and share information with veterans during the 96th MFB State Annual Meeting on Dec. 1-3 at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel and DeVos Place in Grand Rapids.
To learn more about the organization, please visit www.farmvetco.org.