Agricultural resources available to Veterans

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) recently announced an award of $5 million to community farming programs for Veterans. NIFA’s Enhancing Agricultural Opportunities for Military Veterans (AgVets) program specifically targets Veterans interested in pursuing careers across the food and agricultural sector. The aim is to equip Veterans with the necessary skills, training and experience that lead to meaningful employment opportunities to strengthen personal finances and rural economies.

The most recent announcement highlights eight AgVets projects. Each project offers onsite, hands-on training and classroom education leading to a comprehensive understanding of successful farm and ranch operations, and management practices. Projects may also offer workforce readiness and employment prospects for service-disabled Veterans.

Awardees

Rural South Institute, Madison, Alabama

Rural South Institute seeks to empower military Veterans and facilitate their equitable access to government programs and resources to successfully transition into civilian life. This project targets Veterans in Alabama, paying special attention to those currently serving in the Reserve and National Guard, and who are interested in farming and entrepreneurship.

Center for Land-Based Learning, Woodland, California

The long-term goal of this project is to provide comprehensive classroom and hands-on agricultural education to Veterans, and to connect them with support services that will increase their retention in agricultural careers. The target audience includes service-disabled Veterans, women Veterans, and socially disadvantaged Veterans in the state of California.

Farmer Veteran Coalition, Davis, California

“Veterans Farming Through Adversity” connects Veterans to an educational and training program  in their chosen agricultural field through partnerships with four certified agricultural apprenticeship programs: (a) Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship (DGA); (b) Archi’s Acres Institute for Sustainable Agriculture; (c) Rodale Institute Veteran Farmer Training Program; and (d) Texas AgrAbility Battleground to Breaking Ground. The four apprenticeship opportunities span 18 states and a variety of focus areas and commodities.

Denver Botanic Gardens, Inc., Denver, Colorado

Denver Botanic Gardens’ Veterans Farm Program creates opportunity out of crisis by preparing all Veterans for the agricultural workforce gap created by growers who are either retiring or leaving the industry.

Servicemember Agricultural Vocation Education (SAVE) Corp., Manhattan, Kansas

SAVE provides hands on training and transition assistance for Veterans desiring a career in farming or the agriculture industry.

Michigan Integrated Food & Farming Systems, East Lansing, Michigan

The Heroes to Hives (H2H) program is the nation’s largest beekeeping education program with nearly 1,000 alumni operating over 4,000 beehives across the United States. H2H uses a 9-month hybrid education program that takes students through a year of beekeeping training using a self-paced online certificate program that is coupled with hands-on educational experiences at seven locations in Michigan.

Whitaker Small Farm Group Inc., Garner, North Carolina

The main goal of this project is to empower Veteran farmers primarily in eastern North Carolina with the resources, knowledge and expertise needed to make well informed decisions to manage their farms in a sustainable and profitable manner.

American Farmland Trust, Washington, D.C.

Veteran Women for the Land aims to foster a community of practice among Veteran women farmers in the Pacific Northwest through a series of listening sessions, Learning Circles and convenings.

Check out more of USDA’s resources available to Veterans.

VA Secretary’s Statement on the Passage of the PACT Act

VA Secretary’s Statement on the Passage of the PACT Act
“Veterans who were exposed to toxic fumes while fighting for our country are American heroes, and they deserve world-class care and benefits for their selfless service. The bipartisan PACT Act will help VA deliver for those Veterans—and their survivors—by empowering us to presumptively provide care and benefits to Vets suffering from more than 20 toxic exposure-related conditions.

To those Veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors: you can apply for PACT Act benefits by filing a claim at VA.gov, and you can learn more about the PACT Act at VA.gov/PACT or by calling us at 1-800-MyVA411. VA will be communicating with you every step of the way to make sure that you and your loved ones get the benefits you’ve earned.

I couldn’t be more grateful to President Biden, who made this day possible by fighting like hell for our nation’s Veterans. Once the President signs this bill into law, VA will implement it quickly and effectively, delivering the care these Veterans need and the benefits they deserve.” – VA Secretary Denis R. McDonough

ODP Business Solutions® and The American Legion Posts have partnered to provide exclusive benefits and savings to its members

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Listen to VA Pacific Islands Health Care System’s (VAPIHCS) Podcast

Aloha!

Listen to VA Pacific Islands Health Care System’s (VAPIHCS) Podcast “ VAPIHCS Talk Story” here

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-us3as-1222547

Mahalo to Henry Villarreal for producing and editing!

One Team, One Ohana!

Amy Rohlfs

Public Affairs Officer

VA Pacific Islands Health Care System

USS George Washington suicides raise alarm on Capitol Hill as defense secretary admits problem with sailor housing

USS George Washington suicides raise alarm on Capitol Hill as defense secretary admits problem with sailor housing

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House lawmakers on Wednesday raised alarm over the string of suicides on the USS George Washington and the readiness of the Navy overall as the Pentagon’s top official acknowledged shortcomings with how sailors are housed on ships undergoing repairs.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told a subpanel of the House Appropriations Committee that the Pentagon is awaiting the results of two investigations into the George Washington and figuring out how to lodge sailors in the future after three of the ship’s crew members died in less than one week in April.

“Whether or not we made the right choices is left to be said,” Austin said. “Certainly there’s a problem there. We’ve got to understand what the problem is a bit more and then we have to figure out what to do to ensure we don’t have these kinds of problems in the future.”

Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, said she was “terribly concerned” that the slow pace of ship repairs was creating a “dispirited situation” for the crews assigned to them. The George Washington has been undergoing a mid-life overhaul and refueling process at Newport News, Va., since 2017.

“For hundreds of sailors, they have no access to housing or a car, and they’re stuck on the ship,” Kaptur said. “This is really demoralizing.”

Work on the George Washington was expected to end in late 2021 but will now stretch into 2023, she said. Austin attributed the delay to the coronavirus pandemic and said the repair of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier such as the George Washington required “very, very sophisticated work.”

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, accompanied by Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testifies Wednesday, May 11, 2022, before the House Committee on Appropriations subcommittee on defense during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Jose Luis Magana/AP)“It certainly was not anticipated that the ship would be in a repair cycle this long but nonetheless I expect the leadership to make the right decisions and I look forward to seeing what the investigations show,” he said.

The Navy allowed more than 200 sailors from the carrier to move to temporary housing at another local service installation earlier this month. Austin said Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro will meet with the ship’s command on May 17.

Kaptur and several other lawmakers said they were worried the Navy was not spending enough money to improve repair backlogs, improve morale or prepare for the rising threat from China. The Pentagon’s requested budget for fiscal year 2023, which begins Oct. 1, seeks to retire 24 ships and decreases the fleet size from 298 ships today to 280 by 2027.

“I am troubled by the [Department of] Defense submission on the Navy because I see it getting worse,” Kaptur said. “I wanted to point a flashlight on this part of the budget and say we’ve got to do something … we are not taking care of those who are in service to our country right now.”

Kaptur and Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, pressed Austin to prioritize mental health services as the military grapples with rising incidents of suicides across various branches. Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif., questioned how the Navy can keep up with China’s rapidly growing fleet.

“With no clear shipbuilding plan and only eight ships requested in the budget, I have a very big concern that we’re not taking China in the South [China] Sea seriously, especially when China is building 22 ships this year,” Calvert said.

Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Navy carefully assessed the risks and benefits of a “divest to invest” strategy that focuses on quality rather than quantity. Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., chairwoman of the subcommittee, noted much of China’s fleet consists of smaller support ships.

Austin told lawmakers that the military has to counter China through multiple domains and the totality of investment in air, land, sea, space and cyber in the defense budget will meet that challenge.

“There is significant investment in a number of capabilities that are absolutely relevant to competition with China,” he said.