EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — Veterans are helping other veterans farm. It might not seem obvious at first, but the two experiences, the military and farming, have quite a bit in common.

The quiet of a pasture is a far cry from some of the places retired Army Colonel John Fant has seen. After decades of service in the military, including four combat tours, two in Afghanistan and two in Iraq, Fant returned to his roots where he grew up, farming sheep and cattle in Virginia.

“Farming is as much a national service as is serving in the military. You have one percent of the nation serving in the armed forces, then you have one to two percent of the nation that feeds 100 percent of the nation,” said Fant.

Fant is the past president of the Virginia Farmer Veteran Coalition, a group set up to advise veterans who want to farm make that transition.

“That’s where the biggest benefit is, a vet talking to another vet. There’s a level of comfort there and understanding because of a shared common experience and now they’re trying to get into another experience that we can share as well,” explained Fant.

Fant says life in the military makes farming a natural for veterans. Both are mission-focused, disciplined, and physically demanding. Plus problem solving is a big plus.

“When you talk about national service and giving back to our country, farming is one of those things that I think makes a lot of sense for veterans to do,” stated Fant.

Since 2019, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has actively supported veterans who want to farm though the Hometown by Heroes program.

Pennsylvania is currently home to more than seven thousand veterans identified as agriculture producers.