BANGOR – Veterans need support when they return home from war.
And in Bangor, they’re also being given tools to cultivate their community.
Society has quite different views of veterans and criminals, but once they’re done serving time, either in defense of a good cause, or as the result of a bad one, both groups share struggles integrating back into the real world.
Jerry Ireland, Exec. Director, United Farmer Veterans of Maine said “Dealing with that change of who you are now can sometimes be a really big struggle.”
We’ve heard it before; many veterans need help when they come home. There are countless national outlets of support. But, what’s happening on Columbia Street in Bangor is not your average vet charity.
Ireland added “A lot of veteran non-profits focus on what they can do for a veteran, which is great, it’s what it’s about, but at some point it has to come full-circle to what our veterans can do for the community.”
A soldier and a pastor. No it’s not the beginning of a bad joke, but rather a perfect partnership.
Dr. Stan Moody, Senior Pastor, Columbia Street Baptist Church stated “So much of what drove him before was gone.”
Pastor Stan Moody and veteran Jerry Ireland have spent their time helping people on opposite sides of freedom. And they’re joining forces to create opportunities for soldiers in a profession where Maine desperately needs a boost; farming.
Ireland said “We’re going to have veterans here serving that food to the community.”
The United Farmer Veterans of Maine has produced over 220 farms, where food, education, income, and especially structure are earned by those who used to steadily receive them.
“It’s really about giving resources and opportunity to somebody that really wants to rise above their circumstances, whether it’s a veteran or an inmate.” added Ireland.
As a result, these new cultivators are given a place to sell their produce. And when most non-profits set up shop in the Portland Area, Ireland is proud to plant his roots in Bangor.
Ireland said “We focused our area organization on the veteran farms, not the consumer of those products, and being here in Bangor, we are central to every single farm in the State of Maine.”
Providing a home base to teach, support, and allow those who served, to provide yet another service.