Former SHARE Client Helps Other Veterans Through Nonprofit Beekeeping Organization
Through his beekeeping nonprofit, Tim Doherty hopes to help fellow Shepherd Center SHARE Military Initiative veterans living with PTSD.
For many people, plunging their hands into thousands of bees would be their worst nightmare come true.
For Tim Doherty and others, it’s therapy.
Tim is an Army veteran who sustained physical injuries, a mild traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after his unit was attacked in Afghanistan in 2015. Beekeeping helped him heal, as did Shepherd Center’s SHARE Military Initiative, a comprehensive rehabilitation program for post-9/11 veterans.
“When I came home, I didn’t think it was me; I thought it was everybody else,” Tim says. “I didn’t know I had a brain injury, so I didn’t know my emotional regulation was thrown off. When I was admitted to Shepherd Center, I was in such a dark place. After SHARE, I felt like I had control over my life again.”
Tim, 52, is an assistant principal at Riverwood High School in Sandy Springs, Georgia. Even before he turned to Shepherd for help, his sister had shown him beekeeping after he returned from Afghanistan.
“She said, ‘Why don’t you work the bees with me?’ So, I did, and it’s just so invigorating. You just focus on the bees,” he says.
Tim started a nonprofit organization called Doc’s Healing Hives to help other veterans with PTSD through beekeeping.
Through donations, Doc’s provides veterans with free bees, equipment and training; about 65 veterans had taken the training before COVID-19 curtailed in-person instruction in 2020. Doc’s is an approved Shepherd Center activity for veterans, and Tim plans to expand the program to the land he owns in north Georgia.
“Beekeeping is a positive adrenaline rush,” he explains. “You open up this hive, and there’s anywhere from 10,000 to 100,000 bees looking at you. Any one of them could decide to sting you. You can’t be thinking about anything else. If you are like Cool Hand Luke and move the frames nice and slow, they’ll let you inspect the entire hive.
“One of my veteran friends who went through the program, his wife says it was like he was a little kid, and it was Christmas when he brought home the bees,” he continues. “She had not seen him so excited in years.”
Written by Phil Kloer
Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neuromuscular conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. In its more than four decades, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that treats more than 740 inpatients, nearly 280 day program patients and more than 7,100 outpatients each year in more than 46,000 visits.