154: Lawrence Parkhill of the Veteran Farmers of America
Helping our returning veterans heal through farming and agriculture.
Lawrence signed up for the infantry at age 16 when the towers fell, and left at age 18 to go to Camp Pendleton. He was deployed twice to Iraq with India Company, Third Battalion, First Marines. Lawrence extended his contract by six months or so to deploy with the Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command (MARSOC) to Afghanistan. He has a total of five year’s active duty as a machine gunner and got out as E5 (sergeant) with two Purple Hearts, and a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with V device for valor.
Lawrence is the President and Co-Founder of Veteran Farmers of America. He is also the National Maintenance Support Manager at Mission Produce in Oxnard where he lives.
In This Podcast: Greg is honored to talk to Sargent Lawrence Parkhill who shares his story of how he founded a new non-profit which is helping veterans reintegrate into non-combat life with jobs in agriculture. Veteran Farmers of America is working with returning servicemen and women to find internships and jobs in various aspects of the agriculture industry.
Listen in and learn about:
- How he grew up living near agriculture but not participating in it
- How he went to the Marines and still did not have anything to do with agriculture
- How he came back to the states and found Mary at SEEAG and started thinking
- What the inspiration was for the Veteran Farmers America (VFA)
- His friend who was a sniper who came home and bounced around from jobs, and dealt with some issues, but really enjoyed the fruit trees he planted in his home
- The connection between serving in the military and serving the country through the local food systems
- Being the guinea pig for the new program to learn and understanding the agriculture industry and realizing there was so much more to it than meets the eye
- His internship that led to a job
- What the VFA is and what they do for veterans who are interested in learning about jobs in agriculture
- How the pay system works for the participants
- The many different ways for veterans to participate
- One of the veteran Paul who did an internship and was hired at the location and is still loving the job
- The transition services for returning veterans offering support and resources to help reintegrate into society
- A little about the 22 a day statistic
- How they are based in Ventura, California, and have vets visit from other states
- They are willing to have other chapters in other states
- Some of the different jobs that can be found in the industry
- Even some work for heavy equipment, sales, accounting, IT, etc
- How the qualifications in a MOS does not equate to jobs back in the states
- Learning how to highlight the skills like leadership and training that have been developed in service
- How they are planning to place more veterans in the groups
- How as a non profit they are looking for funding to serve more veterans
As well as:
- The challenges of time as he took on a lot and had to put the VFA on the back burner, however how getting the VFA to be a stand alone non-profit is working
- How he feels like this is a success when he talks to veterans who have gone through the program and hears how they are succeeding
- How the brotherhood of servicemen is what drives him to continue with all this
- His advice is to look them up, don’t give up on yourself, and if you’re not happy with where you are then change it as life is too short!
How to reach Lawrence and the Veteran Farmers of America:
Facebook: Veteran Farmers of America