Kentucky Adjutant General Edward W. Tonini, left, and Agriculture Commissioner James Comer flank the Homegrown by Heroes logo. (Kentucky Department of Agriculture photo by Chris Aldridge)
Agriculture Commissioner James Comer has launched two new programs to help Kentucky military veterans find jobs in agriculture and sell their farm products.
Kentucky Proud Jobs for Vets connects veterans looking for work with farmers who need labor. Homegrown by Heroes is a new logo that identifies farm products produced by Kentucky veterans. The programs will operate out of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.
“Kentucky Proud Jobs for Vets and Homegrown by Heroes enable Kentucky veterans to pursue careers in agriculture,” Commissioner Comer said in a news conference at the Boone Center National Guard Army Aviation Support Facility in Frankfort. “With these programs, the department is doing its part for those men and women who have already done their part to protect our great nation.”
Kentucky Adjutant General Edward W. Tonini thanked Commissioner Comer and the department for launching the veterans programs and pledged the Kentucky National Guard’s support to help them succeed. “I truly appreciate your demonstrated patriotism and the unbridled service to the Kentucky National Guard and the troops of Kentucky,” Gen. Tonini said.
Michael Lewis, a Berea farmer, veteran, and director of the Growing Warriors program that helps veterans get started in agriculture, said the Homegrown by Heroes logo “gave me the courage to step out of my comfort zone” and buy his own farm.
“Homegrown by Heroes is more than a label,” Lewis said. “It’s a call to action. We all … have a responsibility to seek this label out and thank a veteran by buying their product.”
Kentucky Proud Jobs for Vets is a strategic partnership initiative between the department and USA Cares, a Kentucky-based 501(c)(3) charitable organization that provides financial and advocacy support to military members, veterans, and their families. Kentucky Proud farms and agriculture-related businesses may participate. Farms and businesses in the program may display the Kentucky Proud Jobs for Vets logo.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the unemployment rate among post-9/11 veterans nationwide was 10.8 percent in December 2012, compared with an overall unemployment rate of 7.8 percent.
The Homegrown by Heroes logo will enable consumers and retailers to identify Kentucky Proud products produced by Kentucky farmer/veterans, providing an incentive for consumers to buy those products and for retailers to stock them on their store shelves. At the news conference, Commissioner Comer said he is working to expand the Homegrown by Heroes concept nationwide.
To find out more about Kentucky Proud Jobs for Vets and Homegrown by Heroes, and to learn how you can help, go to www.kentuckyproud.com/veterans or www.kyagr.com.