Veterans returning home face many problems of transition, and in this economy, just finding a job can be one of them. According to PR Newswire, currently more than 250,000 U.S. veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are unemployed, and the rate of unemployment for veterans ages 18 to 24 is possibly as high as 30%. The Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC), a non-profit started by farmers, is trying to make this re-entry more viable by putting returning veterans in touch with area farmers, thereby connecting two groups with identifiable needs that seem potentially very well suited to each other.

To this end, the FVC, a project of Community Partners and a member of Coalition for Iraq + Afghanistan Veterans, is holding their first Southern California Food and Farming Veteran Career Fair next Wednesday, June 30th, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. The purpose of the fair is to connect returning vets with jobs, internships, training programs and colleges, as well as to offer assistance to those veterans interested in starting their own farms or food-related businesses.

The FVC's aim is to mobilize employers in the industry, in urban farming and food networks, in the area's regional farms, and in culinary trades, and to facilitate the movement between these resources and businesses and interested returning vets. The event is free, and food will be provided by area farmers and participating restaurants, among them: Josie, The Yard, Border Grill, Akasha, Bread and Roses Culinary Program at St. Joseph Center and Salvation Army Veterans Kitchen. The event is also supported by the Santa Monica Farmers Market and the City of Santa Monica. In addition, there will be on-site counseling provided to all attending veterans and resume help available prior to the event.

Anyone who would like to sign up as an exhibitor, offering jobs or training to returning Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans, should contact the fair organizers at the Farmer Veteran Coalition. The event organizers would like to stress that this event is for veterans. It is not,” says Santa Monica Farmers Market supervisor Laura Avery, “meant to be a foodie mecca.”

Food and Farming Veteran Career Fair: Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, 1855 Main Street, Santa Monica. Wednesday, June 30th, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

LA Weekly