by KATHY LOY

For some veterans returning home and looking for a job outside of military service, employment prospects can be bleak. The current economy is not as strong as it was for vets returning from previous wars, and the unemployment rate for veterans is twice the national average. The Veterans Valor Fund strives to provide programs in the agricultural industry, focusing on organic and locally sold produce and agricultural products, in order to assist needy or disabled veterans in California. These programs can be tuition grants, training programs, business grants and loans or funding for greenhouses.

4S Ranch resident and Treasurer of the Veterans Valor Fund (VVF), Daron Edwards, explains that the VVF “exists to support active duty and retired military individuals getting trained, educated and properly certified in the sustainable agricultural industry. This will enable them to establish their own business so they can get on their feet financially.” He and the other founders of the VVF got the idea from a program that started in Escondido called Archi’s Acres, Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training program which is an “entrepreneurial incubator” for transitioning veterans. Archi’s Acres has trained over 100 veterans for careers in Printsustainable agriculture and other sectors in the food supply chain.

Daron, a Financial Advisor with Wells Fargo Advisors in Rancho Bernardo, says that providing veterans this kind of help has its benefits. “Giving back, in a tangible way, to these brave men and women warriors who have risked their lives to secure our freedom and seeing them discover the possibilities of being their own boss and being financially independent is rewarding,” said Daron. “As is having a way to encourage and support them in chasing their dream. Coming from the financial background of investments and money management it is important for me to participate in guiding these men and women into sustainable careers. Risk is mitigated with proper training and guidance.”

The VVF is a non-profit organization that wishes to partner with individuals and organizations that want to take part in helping more veterans make a smooth transition to financial independence. Recently, three San Diegans in the auto industry sponsored students to go through a sustainable agricultural program: Joe Allis (Porsche), George Athan (Audi), and Jason Puga (Land Rover) organized by Janet Lawless Christ of Coldwell Banker in Rancho Santa Fe. To donate or become involved in the Veterans Valor Fund, visit their website at www.veteransvalorfund.com.