Program helps soldiers go from battlefields to farm fields

WWNY Program helps soldiers go from battlefields to farm fields

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Being in the military doesn’t compare to many other professions. But Cornell Cooperative Extension helps veterans make the transition into a farming career.

Acres of farmland isn’t exactly a battlefield, but Cornell Cooperative Extension is aiming to help veterans make the transition from a life in the military to a career in farming with their Farm Ops Program.

“Farm Ops is a program that is funded to help bring agricultural opportunities to veterans and to soldiers who are transitioning out of the military,” said Cathy Moore, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County.

The Farm Ops program just received a $300,000 grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Even though the program is brand new, CCE has already helped hundreds of soldiers.

Paul Haldeman spent time in 25 different duty stations around the world, including Iraq and Fort Drum. But now, he enjoys producing maple products.

“I love being outdoors. I can’t stand being indoors. That’s why the Army was also a good match because I spent 90 percent of my career outdoors training and I love that and farming is the same,” he said.

John Anderson was in the military for 24 years, which included a stint as a truck master at Fort Drum. Today, he likes the quiet life.

“I walk out my door and I’m at work, you know, and I don’t have to worry about - I don’t shave every day like I used to,” he said.

Most people wouldn’t make the connection between being a soldier and a farmer. But if you ask the people that have made the transition, they say there are actually a lot of similarities.

“If you can tough it out in the Army, you can tough it out in farming, you know, because they’re both similarly difficult,” said Haldeman.

The Farm Ops programs will give veterans access to classes and internships to help them make the transition.

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