Agriculture reaching out to disabled veterans

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The National AgrAbility Project is expanding its services to veterans with disabilities interested in agriculture.

The project has appointed Cindy Chastain to the new position of farmer veteran AgrAbility coordinator.

While only about 17 percent of Americans live in rural areas, rural residents account for approximately 44 percent of the U.S. military, said Paul Jones, AgrAbility project manager based at Purdue University.

“Many of our warriors return home with visible and invisible disabilities that may restrict their employment options,” he said. “Agriculture may be a viable possibility for many of them.”

Chastain’s responsibilities include networking with the 20 state and regional AgrAbility projects and other relevant organizations to improve opportunities and outcomes for farmer-veteran clients.

Chastain has a strong background in both the military and agriculture. She grew up on a family farm in Indiana and later earned a bachelor’s degree in animal sciences from Purdue, where she participated in ROTC.

Chastain then served as an Army officer for more than 31 years, including as deputy commander of the 1-19th Agribusiness Development Team from 2008 to 2010. The team was deployed to Afghanistan from 2009-10.

She continues to function as president of Chastain Farms in Crawfordsville.

About AgrAbility

The position is funded through support from the CHS Foundation and in partnership with the Farmer Veteran Coalition, which helps veterans develop careers in agriculture.

AgrAbility is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and consists of a national project, led by the Breaking New Ground Resource Center at Purdue, and state/regional projects serving 22 states.

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