Retired farmer crossing the country on a mission to support veterans and first responders

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Iowa’s country roads are no stranger to tractors but an old John Deere making its way through the state isn’t heading into the fields. 

A retired farmer is using the antique machine as a way to draw attention to his mission and message: Operation Second Chance,

The non-profit provides financial help to injured, wounded or ill veterans and their family.

Across America for Wounded Heroes raises awareness and money for the cause.

This is the third cross-country journey C. Ivan Stoltzfus told Local 4 News he’s made in the 1948 John Deere.

It started as a dream to travel through the lower 48, but he wanted a reason and a unique way to do it.

So he’s taking his time not just to see this country but hear from those who serve to keep its freedom secure.

Across America for Wounded Heroes C. Ivan Stoltzfus said, “I say it’s the real America and there’s so much good out there.”

A land far from the beaches of Normandy.

Stoltzfus said, “Some of them knew that they wouldn’t, might not come back, but they were willing, just to sacrifice themselves for my freedom, I’m just in awe of that.”

C. Ivan Stoltzfus is heading out for another day on the road Wednesday starting in DeWitt, reminded of the heroism of D-Day and the stories of those who fight and ride with him. 

“This is Brit; she lost her in Afghanistan,” Stoltzfus said showing Local 4 News a picture that hangs up in the cab. 

In the tractor’s cab is the motivation.
The sacrifice like the Purple Heart he was gifted by injured veteran Jeremy Jackson. 

Stoltzfus said, “Jeremy, I can’t take that. You earned that, and he said, no. He said with tears in his eyes I want you to take this along.”
 
And it’s been making the journey as Ivan works to achieve his mission of helping heroes move on one mile at a time. 

Stoltzfus said, “Come back into civilization, it’s hard to know how to deal with their emotions, and they end up with PTSD.”

It’s a helping hand he is working to make possible by teaming up with Operation Second Chance. 

Stoltzfus said, “Events for our veterans just to get them out and for a different environment to help them.”

At no more than 14 miles per hour in his 1948 John Deere.

Stoltzfus said, “Called Johnabilt. John Deere and the Peterbilt cab.”

Ivan is promoting for people to open their wallets for Operation Second Chance, but more so their hearts. 

Stoltzfus said, “Veterans tell me, Ivan, it’s not the monetary. It’s that somebody is out there, and we just really appreciate it. Please, don’t give up.”

Ivan started this latest journey in May and is currently on his way to Montana.

He’s expected to finish by arriving in Florida come October crossing some 5,500 miles.

In addition to following along with the journey, people can also donate to Operation Second Chance.

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