BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — As a way to help veterans and Maine's agriculture, the United Veterans of Maine had their very first strategic planning summit Saturday. Nearly two dozen vets showed up to help shape the future of the organization.
“Something happens to you in war, and it's very pure, but it can also be very devastating, and coming back and re-integrating into society is a little bit tough,” said Anne Weinberg, the group's mid-coast regional director.
She experienced that struggle firsthand.
But after she and her husband retired from 27 years in the Marine Corps, she still felt a sense of obligation.
“We really wanted to give back to our country and serve, but in a different way," she said. "But we also really wanted to stay connected to veterans.
And her love for the outdoors brought her to Maine. It was only a matter of time before she got involved in the UFV of Maine, an organization working to boost Maine’s agriculture.
“Agriculture also provides a way to be quiet and connect with nature, especially if you're doing livestock or just really working with the soil,” Weinberg said.
Getting your hands dirty and enjoying the outdoors, she says, is the perfect way to provide veterans with peace of mind. And she is not the only person who thinks that.
“There’s just something about growing crops and raising animals that just fills your soul,” UFM of Maine VP Chris Knowlton said.
He spent much of his childhood on a farm, but as time passed, fell out touch with the countryside until just three years ago.
“I just felt the need of coming back to the farm and bringing the family back together and doing things the way they used to do," he said. "It is key to seeing the success of my family grow.
“I think we need to be more sustainable. We need to bring back to how it used to be — family farms and being more diverse.”
To help make that vision become a reality, Knowlton needs other vets to get on board. He has witnessed, firsthand, how literally showing the fruits of your labor can change a vet’s life.
“They’ve just kind of gone from a homeless and helpless situation to being hopeful," he said.
For more information or to get involved, click here.