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Faces of Fort Cavazos: Joe Burdulinski says becoming a farmer after the military helps him

Posted at 5:52 PM, Jun 26, 2024

FORT CAVAZOS, Texas — Joe Burdulinski is a proud United States Army veteran turned farmer — he may be living the simple life on a ranch in Lott now, but his story begins in Chicago, Illinois.

”Definitely different from Texas,” Burdulinksi said.

“It was good, a lot of friends and family — everyone in the neighborhood, everyone looked out for each other but over the years, it started getting rougher and rougher.”

Eager to follow in the footsteps of many others in his family, he chose to join the military, but life altering news stopped that first attempt in its tracks.

”I had testicular cancer that spread into my lymph nodes, and it was Stage 4 is what they told me, and I beat it,” Burdulinski said.

“The doctors today say I'm a miracle.”

After a multi-year battle with cancer, he was able to join the Army.

He fought in both Iraq and Afghanistan before being medically retired for injuries he suffered in combat.

That’s when he found his passion for agriculture.

”I got nervous as soon as I started the med board, and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do," Burdulinski said.

“One of my First Sergeant buddies, First Sergeant Diaz for 38th, I was in 38th Cav at Fort Hood, he was like, 'Hey, check out this program'."

That program was the Battleground to Breaking Ground program through Texas A&M University.

Now, just a couple years later, he owns and ranch in Lott that not only helps pay his bills, but helps him cope with PTSD — his fellow vets say he is an example for others to follow.

”I like knowing where my things come from — I like having that personal interaction with people," said fellow U.S. Army veteran, Patrick Abrams.

"That's why it’s important to me that Joe is out here because he’s the farmer — he’s known as Uncle Joe in my house, Uncle Joe the Farmer.”

Burdulinski is now urging other veterans to join the farmer ranks.

”You feel so good about yourself, the hard work you put into it — you produced it,” he said.

“Home grown by heroes right here, you know what I mean?”

Burdulinski says working the land has helped him cope with PTSD, while giving him a way to continue serving by serving his community and the small businesses within it.