HANSON — Finding a purpose and a brand new hobby are just two of the motivations behind an initiative that blossomed three years ago in which veterans are paired with beekeeping mentors.
The goal in producing a local honey is aimed at creating positivity for veterans suffering with Post Traumatic Stress or PTSD.
Brett Miller of Hanson a retired United States Army sergeant, who served as a medic and special operations trainer for search and rescue, has announced he is becoming involved as a mentor with the Hives for Heroes.
Hives for Heroes a national military veteran 501(c)(3) non-profit organization focusing on honey bee conservation, suicide prevention, and a healthy transition from service to civilian life has recently announced the creation of a mentorship between Veterans and bee keepers as a way to create a new ambition, according to their website.
Miller is also a physical therapist and is owner and founder of 110 Fitness in Rockland. His programs at the 110 Fitness also involve veterans.
Miller has himself struggled with PTSD after serving for eight years in the Army, and received therapy in dealing with the triggers that vary differently for everyone. He knows the statistics on veteran’s suicides and has lost comrades to the disorder once called shell shock or battle fatigue but now is known as a serious illness.
The goal for Hives for Heroes is connecting people.
“By bettering the lives of individuals there is a positive impact on their community and ultimately the world. Through honeybee conservation, there is a common goal for NewBEEs, Mentors, and Volunteers to work toward,” according to the program.
Hives for Heroes, which is linked through the national network of beekeepers and veterans, provides purpose, education, and healthy relationships fostering a lifelong hobby in beekeeping, according to the Hives for Heroes website and their mission statement.
The initiative brings one veteran and one mentor together using the first year as learning and instructional one. By the second and third year, the goal for the veteran is to gain skill to serve in a community of be keeping, eventually going on to teacher other veterans passing on their learned knowledge and becoming a mentor themselves.
Brett and fellow beekeeper Dean Sylvester, also of Hanson, met through the Plymouth County Beekeepers’ Association and have become friends.
Sylvester, a beekeeper for nearly half his life, is full of knowledge and was a presenter at the Beekeeping School in Pembroke through the Beekeepers’ Association when he met Miller.
A hobby helps
In their recent extraction of honey Miller and Sylvester were expected to clear the 11 frames from two hives that are from Miller’s property. Sylvester has 30 hives on his property in Hanson and expects to produce over 800 pounds, which is made easier by the commercial extractor he uses. It clears 20 frames at once.
Miller has been a beekeeper for four years and is still learning with Sylvester being a mentor as well as a friend.
PTSD affects the mind and body and is brought on by witnessing or being involved in a traumatic event. The disorder ranges in responses and extreme reactions both physically and mentally to events that “trigger” a reminder of the occurrence. Sleep disturbances, anxiety, hypervigilance, avoiding everyday tasks are just a small number of the symptoms of PTSD which left untreated can excel into additional psychological downward spiral in mental and social functioning and even result in suicide.
Veterans who suffer from PTSD are more at risk for drug and alcohol abuse and suicide, according to statistics. It can become a vicious cycle seeking help when the triggers can be so varied and produce such an over exaggerated response in the brain and body.
For more information on becoming a mentor with Hives for Heroes and their country wide program visit hivesforheroes.com.
For more information on 110 Fitness and their disabled veteran’s services as well as other physical fitness programs visit 110fitness.org.