While working my third round of AmeriCorps NCCC at Not Forgotten Outreach, my sponsors hired me to spend some time out of the field (where we were performing deforestation and development work) to produce some branding materials for the new VetCorps program they were in the process of pushing through bureaucratic approval by the Corporation for National Community Service (CNCS). They already had some rough ideas for a logo; the thought bouncing around at the time was to fabricate something reminiscent of the famous photograph of American soldiers raising a flag over Iwo Jima—except, instead of a flag, we'd swap in a stalk of corn. I iterated on this concept:
It's a powerful metaphor; replacing the flag with a stalk of corn, and emblematic of what VetCorps terms the 'second mission.' The foundational concept of VetCorps is to give veterans a second mission; to feed the public schools with the produce grown through their efforts on the 28-acre La Finca Militar ranch, which my AmeriCorps team renovated. Through this work, VetCorps would teach them agricultural training and give them mentorship from experienced farmers across Taos County, while local farmers would have access to the skillful talent and unique grit of the veterans enlisted in VetCorps.
I sourced much of the copy from the grant proposals of Not Forgotten Outreach, and was inspired by the impressive amounts of research and the thoughtful design of the program. VetCorps hits several figurative birds with one stone; integrating disenfranchised veterans into their communities, giving them valuable skills in an important field of work, feeding the underserved local schools, and giving local farmers access to talented labor. The program mimics, according to the documentation, another veteran-specific eco-therapeutic retreat on the eastern side of Washington state, which was formed with the cooperation of the local Veterans Affairs department.