Army veteran uses beekeeping to help with PTSD
OVAPA, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Returning home from combat is a delicate balance and adjustment for many in the military, some bring home extra baggage, like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
“If they sting, they give up their life, just like a soldier,” said Eric Grandon.
He chose to channel his energy and focus into beekeeping. As a 20 year veteran of the U.S. Army, Grandon was looking for a way to cope with the anxiety.
If you stand really still and quiet on Sugar Bottom Farm in Clay County, you can almost hear the healing from within.
“You’re so concentrated on what’s going on, there’s nothing else going on anywhere else and that’s what it does for me, it takes away all of the noise,” he said.
He says the colony is a lot like the military. Both are centered around structure, every soldier has a place and purpose.
“Everybody’s doing their job, they know what they need to do but it’s all in a joint effort for that end result of survival,” said Grandon.
He started this mission back in 2014, learning the process through several veteran agriculture programs.
Even when his hives were knocked out by the floods of 2016 and then a year later destroyed by arson, others from around the country jumped into to rally around him and help to rebuild.
“It’s just an amazing thing, beekeepers are close,” he said.
On Sunday, in front of a patriotic crowd at Appalachian Power Park, Grandon was chosen from more than 400 applicants nationwide to be awarded a new Kubota Sidekick to give him a lift out on the farm.
He’s now taking his lessons, experience and training and beginning to lead other comrades through organizations like the VA who are dealing with the battles that rage within.
After 15 years of therapy, Grandon says he was finally ready to lay his burdens down and surrender his fears.
“It’s easier to find when you’re looking for it, than to try and hide from it,” he said.
Hoping to remove the sting of war and leading these boots to a field of peace.
He tells WSAZ beekeeping saved his life and he wants to be able to make a difference by helping others.
Eric and his wife Mary own and operate Sugar Bottom Farm, a full-service bee farm where they grow, sell honey products and even offer training as well as other beekeeping equipment and supplies.
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