Employees of a business called Veteran Enterprises are working on six poultry operations in Minnesota and Iowa to clean and disinfect the facilities in the wake of the bird flu outbreak. Garth Carlson, who runs the business, says the job will take several months to finish.

“It’s a lot of square inches to cover. You’re just powering washing. You’ve got 35,000 PSI water coming out of there and 180 degree water to clean up all the dust and everything to get everything looking like new,” Carlson said. “So, power washers are running all the time.” Veteran Enterprises does state and federal contracting and gives hiring preference to vets.

Carlson, a Madelia, Minnesota resident, served two tours in Kosovo and two tours in Iraq with the Army. He now oversees a workforce of roughly 60 people who are mostly young war veterans. “Since they’ve been 18, out of the house, they’ve been in the military. So they’ve been told what to do, where to do it, and all that,” Carlson said. “We kind of give them that guidance along the way, and kind of teach them how to think on their own…to be a little more of a civilian.”

Carlson also employs poultry workers who lost their jobs as a consequence of the bird flu. At least 75 poultry operations in Iowa were impacted by the bird flu epidemic, resulting in the loss of 32 million chickens and turkeys.

Governor Branstad on Monday signed a disaster emergency proclamation extension for 18 Iowa counties adversely affected by avian influenza which would assist with disposal and clean-up efforts on affected sites. The original proclamation, which included just four counties, was set to expire on Wednesday. The new extension is good for the rest of the year.