Beekeeping, farming programs help Veterans with PTSD symptoms

Programs offer help for those affected by war
Posted at 3:25 PM, Sep 12, 2019

Some veterans are finding relief from the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder by choosing to take up some unconventional treatments that include beekeeping or farming.

Vince Ylitalo knows that many people would find hundreds of buzzing bees around him to be frightening. But it’s proven to be an effective treatment for his PTSD. It’s part of structured therapy.

“I'm in this program to help me get out of the thought process of all those problems that I have. It helps me think about something completely different. I don't even think about my pain anymore. I'm just thinking about the bees,” Ylitalo said in an interview with the Associated Press.

He’s taking part in a free, nine-month beekeeping course. About 80 percent of the participants in the Heroes to Hives program have a disability.

Other veterans are participating in different programs to help treat PTSD.

Army veteran Andrew Larsen turned to farming in rural Florida.

The organization “Vetrest” helped place Larsen in a program where he takes care of animals and works in the field. He moved from Oregon for the program.

“It’s a very safe, relaxed environment to let my brain kind of destress, decompress and actually process the events that have happened,” he said in a Skype interview Thursday.

While serving in Afghanistan, Larsen suffered a traumatic brain injury when his truck ran over an IED.

He tried traditional PTSD treatment with a therapist but didn’t feel like that was helping. Before arriving at the farm, he felt suicidal.

“On Easter weekend, I was basically looking for a building to jump off of. The very fact that I’m here. This place has saved my life,” Larsen said.

Vetrest’s website says its mission is to provide coaches who help veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress and discover the cause of the stress.

The organization’s 20-acre organic farm is in Zolfo Springs, Florida, according to the group’s website.