From the beginning our mission at Heroes and Horses Healing has been to offer assistance, first through equine-assisted psychotherapy, to veterans coping with the often devastating effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, always at absolutely no cost to the veteran.  We have always known that PTSD is a family issue, not always lived and experienced by the veteran alone.  Our Board of Directors has made the decision, after much study, to expand our services beyond only offering therapy classes to a few individual veterans at a time. Our research and observations have led us to understand that dealing directly with the trauma of war shortly after the soldier’s return is the front line of PTSD prevention and mitigation. 


With that in mind we have established a relationship with commanding chaplains and counselors with the 101st Airborne Division at Ft. Campbell, Ky, located about 40 miles from Nashville.  With their input we are developing a pilot program to offer Rescued Horse ground work therapy to soldiers who have very recently returned from war zones, and their families.


Our first therapy event will be November 22-24, 2019, at Cedar Crest Camp in Lyles, TN. (Please watch for a future posting about our partnership with Camp Cedar Crest.)  We will offer two and a half days of recreation for the entire family of each soldier participating, along with intense equine assisted therapy for the soldiers and their spouses.  Cedar Crest’s professional counselors will assist by providing great camp activities for the youngsters, tailored to the specific ages of those who come. 


We will have outdoor and indoor activities, including hiking and high-ropes course challenges.  The soldiers and spouses will have time to spend alone, walking in the woods or by the lake, or just sitting on the spacious back porches of the cabins, knowing their children are well attended by trained, fully vetted professionals and volunteers.  There will be family meals and cookouts, a bonfire with musical entertainment, and time to just unwind and enjoy being together again! 

Claudia and I want to make sure that veterans and their families never experience what so many of us did after the Vietnam War.  My platoon-mate Steve, having been shot on Christmas Eve, returned to the states to spend over a year in an army hospital, and still suffers from severe pain and other effects of this event.  But he also has emotional scars, remembering when he was taken off a hospital plane in California with other severely wounded soldiers, to be greeted by signs at the airport from protesters saying “I hope you die!”.  Thank God people screaming “baby killer!” at us have been replaced today by people sincerely saying “Thank you for your service”, and breaking out into patriotic songs at airports.  But the returning soldiers and their families need more than this, and HHHvets, with your help, intends to offer the positive, affirming embrace these families deserve.

Assuming the corporate and individual donations and sponsorships continue to grow, we will work with the mental health and family counselors at Ft. Campbell to expand this program to include follow up events for each group, as well as weekends for spouses and families of troops who are currently deployed. 


All of this won’t be inexpensive, but we have faith that our continued stewardship of donations (our only paid employees are a part-time Operations Director who assists me with administrative and follow up work, and our part-time Clinical Director, to whom we are finally able to start paying a little money for her time away from her private practice, after so many, many volunteered hours to get us going.) will encourage our good supporters to double down on their support for HHHvets. 

Thanks for being a Partner on the Journey.

Joe Cottingham

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