PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Second Lady Karen Pence made a stop in Pittsburgh on Wednesday alongside Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie.
They visited the Pittsburgh VA Healthcare System in O’Hara Township to discuss veteran suicide prevention before ending the day at Forever Heart Farm in Moon Township.
Mrs. Pence and Wilkie, who did not talk to KDKA on camera, were at the farm to learn about a new pilot program designed to offer hands-on beekeeping training to veterans.
It’s called Bee Bootcamp.
“Veterans who may have PTSD, this is kind of relaxing and more therapeutic. And for those wanting to get involved that don’t have PTSD or any else, just a relaxing project,” said Forever Heart Farm owner Rob Mowery.
Mowery, a Navy Reserve veteran, bought Forever Heart Farm four years ago. He said he got into beekeeping so he could bring pollinators to the farm to help his produce, which made this the perfect spot to start the program.
“Veterans, when they leave the military, sometimes leave behind camaraderie and bonding of sisterhood and brotherhood, and working together toward a common goal may be something they miss,” said Project Director for PA Veteran Farming Project Mimi Thomas-Brooker.
Christopher Rolinson is one of the veterans involved in Bee Bootcamp. He was in the Army.
“My gain for doing this and wanting to do this is to slow down because I do things really fast and sometimes I’m not thorough enough,” said Rolinson.
Right now, there are seven veterans involved, with a goal of future expansion. Thomas-Brooker said a second grant was acquired and the program is looking for another spot to keep some bees.