Trading flame thrower for leaf blower

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - By Morgan Chesky - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - They travel overseas to fight for our country, learning to live surrounded by war. We welcome them home as heroes with parades and parties, but what comes next is another battle in the life of a military veteran: the transition to civilian. The switch is not easy. However, a program is aiming to help military men and women make the change.

They are not your average yard crew and make no mistake, they know how to handle high powered equipment.

"I'm the highest ranking right here," said Sgt. Mark Holmes, a Vietnam veteran.

Holmes, who used to bark orders now offers military men and women opportunity.

"The welcome home is done and you're back home...the reality of the situation is you need to find a job you need to support your family...and I could not find a program that allowed these men and women to do so," said Holmes.

So Holmes created American Veterans' Lawn Care Service, where veterans trade a flame thrower for a leaf blower and a machine gun for a lawn mower.

"He took me in and took care of me and showed me the ropes and everything," said Specialist Jared Hymer.

Mid-March, Hymer found himself out of the military and out of work.

"I felt disappointed...knowing that I wasn't able to take care of my family like I wanted to," he said.

"Over there had a job had a mission a lot of people depended on us," said Sergeant Andy McPeek.

McPeek's reserve status kept him from full time work. Now, both work up to 35 hours a week, earning a steady paycheck taking care of your yard and each other.

"You tell these guys about your experiences in Iraq and they're like, 'Oh, I know exactly what you're talking about! Oh yeah.' 142 degrees? that's hot no matter what," said McPeek.

"They're comfortable in it and it still gives them the sense that they're veterans and they're proud of it and they should be proud of it," said Holmes.

The pride of their work is shown in the finishing touches: two American flags left by those proudly serving others yet again.

Veterans Lawn Care Service is still in its infancy as a program and can use your yard or financial support for supplies.

If you would like to contact the service for your yard or to donate to their parent program Blazing Trails Ministries you can call Sgt. Mark Holmes, Director of Operations at 903-574-1987.

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