Justin Tucker is a living example of how farming can help heal the wounds of war. Returning home to his parent’s small agriculture community, it was no problem for Justin to help his father with his dairy, as he had spent his childhood there. What was challenging for Justin was translating his farm knowledge into a business plan.
He explains, “Over my four years in service I did two tours in Iraq and I really came to understand even more how much our whole lives revolve around the small towns, the small farms, the backyard gardener, and the little things that this country was made from. Unfortunately I feel we as a country have drifted away from this way of thinking. But it is up to people like us to instill the qualities of life and character in our children and our surroundings in order to preserve what we still have…I enjoyed my time in the Marine Corps but I wanted to come back home to the farm and small town. This is where I belonged.”
Joe Judge, a member of the Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC) Fellowship Fund Advisory Panel worked almost daily with Justin, sharing his lengthy business knowledge with the young veteran. When they were done, Justin produced a straightforward strategy for building a beef cattle operation. Through the help from the Bob Woodruff Foundation, Justin has purchased four impregnated heifers and one steer. FVC contributed additional funds to makes the purchase possible and paid for Justin to be a member of the Certified Angus Beef Organization. Justin recently sent the FVC staff a picture which has become iconic for the work we do. In it he is standing in a bright green field next to an old white barn. In his arms is his young son and in the background is one of the heifers. Simple and poignant, this picture epitomizes coming home.