Veterans Voices: PTSD therapy in the pastures

Veterans Voices

McClellandtown, Pa. (WTRF) – Throughout the month of November, Veterans Voices is taking a closer look at something many of our veterans suffer in silence, PTSD. 

Larry Daughterty is an Army veteran but says he always wanted to be a farmer. 

That vision came true, while also helping him manage his symptoms from PTSD and a traumatic brain injury.

In the military, there’s not limitations. You can do and go as far as you want, but now you have to realize limitations and good days and bad days and accept that.

Larry Daugherty, U.S. Army Veteran

Larry Daugherty said it’s taken time for him to realize his limitations after multiple head injuries during his military service.

He was in the U.S. Army from 1992 to 2009, completing his service with the rank of Staff Sergeant.

Throughout his career, Daugherty said he suffered 14 head injuries, mostly from training accidents, but the most severe came while he was overseas in Iraq.

Back in 2003-2005, we were hit with 2155 rounds, which is an IED. It blew the vehicle that I was riding in up. Fortunately we were able to continue with the mission, but later on it’s progressively gotten worse.

Larry Daugherty, U.S. Army Veteran

He was officially diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury and PTSD but told he just had to cope with the symptoms and what he could and couldn’t do.

Daugherty said his symptoms included difficulty with coordination skills, forming sentences, headaches and memory loss.  

After being medically retired, Daugherty bought some land.

It was a decision that would change his life.

Veterans, and anybody that has a disability, wants to be valuable. They want to be able to say ‘hey I’m doing this even though I have an injury’. I always tell folks you can’t let you injury define who you are.

Larry Daugherty, U.S. Army Veteran

Now 40 acres later, he has Heritage Farms. 

I can go up, and if I’m having a bad day, the animals still need ya. I need the animals more than they need me actually. It’s a calming effect. It’s therapy.

Larry Daugherty, U.S. Army Veteran

Heritage Farms officially took shape in 2014. It features grass-fed and pastured raised hogs and cattle. At any point in time, Daugherty says they keep 30 to 40 hogs, 10 to 12 cattle, and some rescue ponies.

All the meat is USDA certified to sell right off the farm.

More importantly, it’s created a new life for Daugherty.

“Just because you’re disabled, you have a brain injury, PTSD, you lost a limb, doesn’t mean you can’t go out and actively do something. You can only limit yourself, nobody else can. 

Larry Daugherty, U.S. Army Veteran

The rolling hills and peaceful pastures are also a way to help other veterans, inspiring them to follow their passions to cope with unseen symptoms. 

Daugherty works with Troops to Tractors, the Pennsylvania Farming Veterans Project and Veteran Farm Tours, all to help veterans looking for their next passion and purpose in life.

It’s not just farming. If you enjoy mechanical, woodworking, anything that puts your mind at ease is worth doing. 

Larry Daugherty, U.S. Army Veteran

Daugherty wants you to remember, just because you can’t see PTSD doesn’t mean it’s not there.

He said he’s also actively working to get rid of the stigma that veterans are institutionalized. He’s living proof.

I’ve had a lot of folks come up and say ‘hey I don’t see that you’re disabled’. Well, you can’t see my brain. 

Larry Daugherty, U.S. Army Veteran

Heritage Farms is located in McClellandtown, Pennsylvania. 

Daugherty and his wife also own and operate a food truck, all made using meat from his farm.

If you’d like to purchase some of his product, or are a veteran who wants to check out their operation, give Daughterty a call at 724-437-9307. 

You’ll also find Heritage Farms on Facebook

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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