MONTAGUE, Mich. -- In 2015, nearly half a million American veterans were struggling to find work. There's a coalition banding together to help our service men and women find meaningful employment in their own backyards, like Michigan native, army veteran and now alpaca farmer, Les Meyette.
After serving in the National Guard, Meyette wanted to get back into something with purpose, but he never thought it would be through alpaca farming.
"I had never touched an alpaca until four years ago, so if you had asked me five years ago, I would've said 'what's an alpaca?' But we absolutely fell in love with them."
The Meyette family now owns and operates the Grand Alpaca Company, raising their own herd of alpacas.
The alpacas are primarily sheared for their lush fibers making warm winter garments, perfect for Michigan living. Not knowing much about the business side of farming, Meyette reached out to the Farmer Veteran Coalition for help.
"They have the expertise, so they can help you carry it to the end. That's one thing the Michigan chapter has been very focused on is trying to help veteran farmers get that product to the buyer."
The coalition even helped Meyette get the funds for his pasture fencing, which was a $4,000 project. He says from farming alpaca to zucchini, the Veteran Farmer coalition is there to help.
"There are so many avenues of farming and the Farmer Veteran Coalition will assist you with all of it."
The Farmer Veteran Coalition will meet at the end of the month in East Lansing for their national conference.