Transitioning from military life to civilian life can be difficult for a number of reasons, with the search for a job high on the list of priorities for veterans.
That’s why a large group of veterans are embracing the production agriculture community through the Battle Ground to Breaking Ground program.
Battle Ground to Breaking Ground is a program through the Texas A&M Ag Extension Service that trains veterans transitioning out of the military on how to be successful in the field of production agriculture.
With many veterans coming from rural communities, it’s a path that leads them down the road home.
”A lot of our veterans came from rural communities and when they are transitioning out of the military, a lot of them want to get back into those communities,” said Erin Kimbrough, program manager for Battle Ground to Breaking Ground.
Success in agriculture is only part of the reason many veterans are in the program.
For retired Army veteran Joseph Burdulinski, working with cattle and in the fields helps combat battle scars like PTSD.
”I’m out on the ranch by myself, relaxed doing that," Burdulinski said. "I got into learning how to do the tractor and cutting hey and there is where I find myself at peace. Out in the hayfields.”
From enzymes in the soil to the open air and sunshine, transitioning into agriculture from the military has a tremendous therapeutic benefit while giving veterans a chance to continue serving their community.
”All those things come together to really help people feel connected," said Kimbrough. "Connected to the land but connected to each other, and I think that there is a lot of healing in that.”
Battle Ground to Breaking Ground keeps the veteran community connected. Past graduates become mentors to new veterans going through the program.
”Damon Cleaton and Steve Cook, as I said, they are my mentors for what they do," said Burdulinski. "It’s great to see them give back to the community."
Damon Cleaton, a graduate of Battle Ground to Breaking Ground, owns Cleaton 4E farms in Kempner and now helps other veterans build their businesses while providing affordable farm-to-table produce to his community.
Battle Ground to Breaking Ground helps tons of veterans transition into a new life while providing a therapeutic way to continue to serve.