The Department of Agriculture signed a memorandum of understanding Tuesday with the American Legion creating a partnership to get information about jobs, training and medical care to veterans who live in rural communities across the country.
About 6.1 million veterans live in rural areas, a higher concentration than elsewhere in the country. The American Legion has over 5,300 posts in counties with populations under 40,000, which account for more than a third of the legions’ membership.
“They’ve got posts all over America,”Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in an interview Tuesday afternoon. “We think there’s an opportunity to use that network.”
The agreement was announced by Vilsack and American Legion National Commander Fang A. Wong at the legion’s 2012 Washington conference.
Wong called the agreement “a big step forward in the American Legion’s push to give veterans jobs when they get back home. . . . Hopefully, we can influence the other departments to join in the same effort.”
Under the agreement, the department and the legion will provide information about USDA programs, including housing, business development and farm loan assistance. They will also advertise job vacancies at USDA and encourage veteran-owned business participation in USDA contracts.
The department will also promote programs that support rural business, farming and ranching, including mentoring programs such as www.start2farm.gov.