North Carolina State University’s Agricultural Institute has stepped up to meet some of the unique challenges veterans face when leaving military service.
The Veterans Project is a special recruitment and advising program, spearheaded by veteran liaison Robert Elliott, a United States Marine veteran and farmer.
“Veterans offer a specific type of work ethic,” Elliott said. “They get up, get the job done.”
But some key needs must be met in order for the program to prosper, said Elizabeth Wilson, director of the Agricultural Institute and creator of the Veterans Project. Because the GI Bill does not cover living expenses, veterans – especially those with families – require scholarship assistance in order to attend school full-time. Enhanced investment is necessary to fund critical faculty and staff salaries, as well as communication efforts and stipends for retired veterans to share their stories on the state’s military bases.
The program is also seeking internship and mentorship providers around the state, to help veterans who become students here learn firsthand what working on a farm or in an agriculture-related business is all about.
The need for the program is strong, Wilson said. As veterans leave military service, many are looking for new jobs and opportunities. North Carolina has a strong veteran population, providing the state with a tremendous workforce, as well as retraining challenges. Veterans’ unemployment is higher than the state average.
It’s just a matter of getting the word out of the resources available at NC State, Wilson said.
“I believe this is a really great program for vets,” Elliott said. “The Agricultural Institute is one of the greatest fast tracks for veterans to get into agriculture and have a meaningful career, either in industry or on the farm.”