By: Sarah Snyder
He's one of our own right here from West Texas. A U.S.D.A. Advisor from Andrews who volunteered to join the United States Military in Afghanistan is teaching the war-torn country how to restore their land and create infrastructure in the farthest-reaching villages. Darren Richardson just returned from Afghanistan. NewsWest 9 sat down with him to find out why this mission is so important.
For the past 23 years, Darren Richardson has worked for the U.S.D.A. Branch in Seminole helping area farmers and ranchers. But last February, he left the West Texas plains for Afghanistan.
"It's great to have him home!" Michelle Richardson, Darren's Wife, said.
Darren's wife, Michelle, welcomed her husband home on a leave, just a few days ago.
"When the military asks for help and something people my age can actually do, something my skill sets are suited for, I think it's a great opportunity to do my part," Darren Richardson, U.S.D.A. Agricultural Advisor, said.
Darren is a part of the team that moves in right after the military takes control. They teach members of the Afghanistan government and village leaders irrigation and farming techniques. They build hospitals, schools, and restore communities.
"The work is good, I think it's a good cause, trying to help those people make a living and to be less susceptible to the radicals, I think is a worthy effort," Richardson said.
Darren says the best part about his service is watching the Afghan people go from simply trying to survive to being able to plan for the future.
"It's interesting to watch when they start bragging on their crops because they had better seeds and when they start having issues with being able to market their crop," Richardson said. "You know, those are good problems to have instead of worrying about feeding their families."
"So many people think that we're just over there to fight and there's a lot of people like my husband who are over there to help and help the country," Michelle Richardson said. "It's not all just about fighting. It's giving someone a better life and I know that's important to my husband."
So many people in Andrews believe in Darren's work the community raised the money to supply textbooks for a Junior College in the Farah province.
"I know farmers and ranchers back here, and it was no problem," Richardson said. "In a couple of weeks, we had the books to the school."
And just a few days before Christmas, Michelle will say goodbye to her husband one more time.
"I'm very proud of him, because I know he sees this as an opportunity to help the world," Michelle said.