According to state of Michigan data, the state unemployment rate for veterans is 11.3%, and even higher among those veterans serving since 9/11. That's higher than the 8.9% general unemployment rate in the state. The U.S. Veterans Administration estimates there are 723,000 veterans in Michigan.
"I heard about the Vets to Ag program," says Joe Braunsdorf of Saginaw, one of the veterans in the program. "I enjoyed working in agriculture in the past. How many people get the opportunity at age 50 to start a new life?"
The Vets to Ag program has attracted corporate attention, with a number of companies recently pledging to hire veterans.
Marilyn Sellers, veterans outreach manager at B3 Solutions, LLC, a provider of customer-focused services and solutions that enable government organizations to optimize their performance, was inspired by the veterans hard work. Her company is providing the veterans with gift cards to purchase new clothing.
"These men have worked so hard over the past six weeks," Sellers said. "The least we can do is to provide them with some new clothes for their new lives."