“We feel like this kind of a program helps to restore some of that independence to these veterans who lost some of their own independence just by their service to our country,” said Tim Birkel, director of marketing for Wyffels Hybrids.
Wyffels Hybrids rolled out its Serving Those Who Served initiative earlier this year at dealer meetings and then at the 2019 Farm Progress Show in Decatur.
The program offers farmers the opportunity to help build homes for disabled veterans through Homes For Our Troops, a 501©3 organization that builds specially-adapted homes for military veterans who were injured during their tour of duty in the Iraq or Afghanistan theaters after 9/11.
Homes with over 40 special adaptations are built at no cost to the veterans. To be eligible to receive a home, veterans must be approved for Specially Adapted Housing benefits under the Veterans Administration.
Homes For Our Troops has completed 285 specially-adapted homes in 42 states. The organization was founded by a general contractor in Massachusetts, who offered to build a specially adapted home for a Massachusetts National Guard soldier who had been wounded during his tour of duty in Iraq. That soldier agreed on the condition that the contractor would build homes for other injured veterans.
Birkel said Wyffels Hybrids wanted to give back to others.
“As what we believe to be a service-based organization, we started 74 years ago with a mission of serving the American farmer. We’ve experienced a lot of growth over the last six years, six straight years of consecutive growth, and we were looking for an opportunity to give back,” he said.
Birkel said the program will donate proceeds from sales of each bag of selected seed varieties toward the construction of two HFOT houses, one in Minnesota and one in Wisconsin. HFOT has built three specially-adapted homes for veterans in Illinois and four in Indiana.
“We are launching 14 new hybrids this year and W-5086 is one from which we will be donating some of the proceeds to Homes For Our Troops,” he said.
Birkel said W-5086 was selected to allow as many farmers as possible to participate and donate. Two dollars from each bag will go to HFOT.
“It’s a 107-day double pro, which means that it covers a pretty wide swath in our geography. The idea is to try to get a hybrid that can cover as much geography to allow as many farmers as possible to participate in the program,” he said.
With the rollout of Serving Those Who Served fairly new, Birkel said he is pleased and surprised at the response from farmers already.
“I have been so impressed with the response. It’s a tremendous outpouring of support for the program, lots of excellent positive feedback on how excited people are that we are doing something like this and how much support there is in this country for our veterans,” he said.
For more information on Homes For Our Troops, go to www.hfotusa.org.