We're buzzing with excitement as we delve into the heartwarming story of Heroes to Hives, a program that's not only saving the bees but also transforming the lives of our cherished veterans. So, grab a cup of tea, and let's embark on this inspiring journey!
Beekeeping for Heroes
Imagine a world where veterans and their families immerse themselves in the art of beekeeping, finding solace and purpose. Heroes to Hives, offered through Michigan Food and Farming Systems, makes this vision a reality. This program, recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, provides free 9-month beekeeping education courses, both online and in-person, fostering financial and personal well-being for our U.S. service members.
The Master Beekeeper and Veteran Hero
Gary Brown, a 60 percent retired vet turned Master Beekeeper, running the show at the Charlotte VFW Post 2406. Gary's journey from two hives to over thirty is nothing short of remarkable. Little did he know that beekeeping would become his therapeutic escape from the clutches of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). As he aptly puts it, beekeeping burst the "bubble" that PTSD had created.
Beekeeping as Therapy
PTSD, a silent struggle for many veterans, found an unexpected adversary in beekeeping. Gary shares that when veterans join the program, their minds transcend the realm of tragic memories to focus on the intricate world of honey bees. The deliberate and slow-paced nature of beekeeping becomes a form of therapy, allowing veterans to break free from their mental confines.
Veterans Unite for a Common Cause
Founded after World War I, Heroes to Hives aimed to empower disabled veterans with the skills needed to become successful beekeepers. The program has since grown into a vast network, bringing together veterans from across the country with a shared purpose. Through hands-on training and a commitment to "slow is the way to go," veterans find themselves immersed in a hobby that demands their undivided attention, offering respite from life's challenges.
The Blossoming of Confidence
During the 9-month program, veterans delve into the inner workings of beehives and the intricate lives of worker bees. With over 100 hours of online training and hands-on opportunities, the program covers therapeutic practices in the bee yard. According to Heroes to Hives, a staggering 97 percent of veterans completing the program report increased confidence in beekeeping. Graduates emerge not only as skilled beekeepers but as individuals with a renewed sense of purpose.
Planting Seeds of Hope for the Future
Post-Commander David Eddy envisions a future where Heroes to Hives expands its reach, touching the lives of all veterans. The program becomes a beacon of support for veterans in communities, offering a safe space for fellowship and camaraderie. As applications open for the 2024 Heroes to Hives program, the invitation extends to all U.S. Armed Service Members, including Veterans, Active Duty or National Guard Members, dependents, Gold Star family members, and surviving spouses of U.S. veterans.
In the wise words of Gary Brown, "Beekeeping will change your life." The call is out—let's join hands to support our heroes and the bees they are helping to thrive.
Apply for the 2024 Heroes to Hives program and explore more about this transformative initiative.
For additional information and to ensure your submission is received, reach out to Gary Brown through his beekeeping website.
Let's be the change we wish to see in the world, one hive at a time! 🐝✨