Band of Brothers: FVC Members Continue Taking Care of Their Own

Taking care of our own is one of the most important tenets of military culture. Regardless of branch of service, the armed forces is a proud band of brothers and sisters where you can always count on someone ‘watching your six.’

After transitioning back into the civilian world, many veterans immediately notice an absence of camaraderie and sense of community that typifies the military lifestyle. The civilian workforce just doesn’t value these ideals in the same way.

Army veterans Greggory DeBoer and Chad Tackett recently proved this mentality is alive and well among the Farmer Veteran Coalition membership.

Last month, Tackett, who owns and operates Tackett Family Farm and Ranch in Lincolnton, Georgia, was looking to expand his cattle operation by adding a bull to service his herd. After hearing about a potentially great deal by a seller in Alabama, Tackett began frantically planning how he would get out to Alabama and transport the bull back to Georgia without a functioning trailer, which was in need of repair.

Having connected with a number of members through the FVC Facebook page, Tackett, an Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom veteran, immediately thought about DeBoer, who owns and operates Veteran Farms in Baileyton, Alabama. Though the two had only casually spoken to each other on Facebook and had never met face to face, Tackett asked DeBoer if he could make the 90-mile trip to the seller in Berry, Alabama, and hold onto the bull until he could make arrangements to pick it up.

Without thinking twice, DeBoer, who was already planning on passing through Georgia on his way to North Carolina that weekend, not only agreed to pick up the bull, but also to deliver it to Tackett’s farm more than 300 miles away.

“I was ecstatic,” said Tackett about his reaction when DeBoer told him he’d deliver the bull to his farm. “I was trying to jump through hoops to figure out how I was going to get to Alabama to get this bull. I’m extremely appreciative. He helped me out more than I would have asked him to.”

After being contacted by Tackett at 7 p.m. on a Saturday night, DeBoer was out the door by 8:30 a.m. the next morning to pick up the bull. Upon arriving at the seller’s farm, things didn’t exactly go according to plan.

“I was hoping to show up, load the bull and come back home, but it turned into an all-day adventure,” said DeBoer, an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran. “The first bull I went to get jumped the fence and away he went.”

Fortunately, the seller had a second bull to offer for half the price of the first bull. DeBoer sized up the bull and Tackett gave him the green light to buy it. Then things got interesting again.

“We had to actually rope the bull and drag it by the horns through about a four-acre pasture,” DeBoer said. “This was no easy task and took about three hours of fighting it. We finally got him on the trailer and on the way we went back to the farm.”

DeBoer cared for the bull over the next three days, feeding him from a bucket and earning his trust, all while updating Tackett with daily photos. When it came time for DeBoer to deliver the bull to Tackett’s farm, he enlisted the support of his friend, Matt Roemer, who has been a cattleman for 38 years.

“Matt came over to the farm and I was schooled on how to load the bull,” he said. “I learned a ton by watching him work the bull. Had it not been for Matt, I may still be trying to load that bull up.”

Delivering the bull without incident, DeBoer was greeted by an appreciative Tackett, who named the new bull “Tecumseh.”

This wasn’t DeBoer’s first time looking out for fellow farmer veterans. Last month, he traveled to Washington, D.C., to advocate for farmer veterans as part of a series of ‘fly-ins’ sponsored by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition to meet with senators and representatives to build support for sustainable agriculture programs.

Both DeBoer and Tackett agree that farmer veterans share a special bond through serving in two of America’s most noble professions: military and farming.

“I think that farmers as a whole would go the extra mile to help each other out,” said DeBoer, who recently planted 9,000 onions by hand on his farm with his wife and son. “I think you add veteran to this, and it just intensifies that bond and the willingness to go the extra mile to help a fellow farmer, and, even more so, another veteran.”

Now that Tecumseh is on the farm, Tackett is looking forward to many successful calving seasons that will keep him stocked with calves for years to come. He’s also looking forward to having DeBoer back out to his ranch to “cook some steak over a fire with a cold beer.”