Here’s Why We Are Passionate About Our Mission
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been the longest sustained US military operations since the Vietnam era, sending more than 2.2 million troops into battle and resulting in more than 6,600 deaths and 48,000 injuries. The Army has now provided more than 1.5 million troop-years to these wars, while the Navy, Air Force, and Marines have collectively contributed another million troop-years. Between December 2008 and December 2011, the deployment time for the average soldier increased by 28%.
For a variety of reasons, however, including mental health challenges, veterans are at risk of family instability, elevated rates of homelessness, and joblessness. More than half million veterans in the United States are homeless at some time, and on any given night more than 300,000 are living on the streets or in shelters. Veterans are twice as likely as other Americans to become chronically homeless. Conversely, while veterans represent one in 10 adult civilians, they account for one in four homeless people. Although lack of education and limited transferable skills from military to civilian life are significant causes of these problems, physical and mental health problems (and lack of care for those problems) are also factors.
Veterans have disproportionate rates of mental illness, particularly posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse disorders, depression, anxiety, and military sexual trauma. Nearly 50% of combat veterans from Iraq report that they have suffered from PTSD, and close to 40% of these same veterans report “problem alcohol use”; in addition, according to estimates from 2010, approximately 22 veterans died as a result of suicide each day in that calendar year. Studies indicate that 56% to 87% of service members experiencing psychological distress after deployment report that they did not receive psychological help.
Both active duty service members and veterans face barriers to treatment for mental health issues. Some of the barriers veterans face, identified by the USGAO and other sources, include:
- Personal embarrassment about service-related mental disabilities
- Long wait times to receive mental health treatment
- Shame over needing to seek mental health treatment
- Fear of being seen as weak
- Stigma associated with mental health issues
- A lack of understanding or lack of awareness about mental health problems and treatment options
- Logistical problems, such as long travel distances in order to receive this type of care
- Concerns over the veteran mental health treatment offered by the VA
- Demographic barriers and false perceptions based on these demographics such as age or gender
First Responders are another demographic group that suffers from PTSD and is underserved due to cost and the stigma associated with asking for help. On average, over the course of their careers, police officers witness 188 “critical events” which include witnessing or executing a mistake that injures or kills a colleague or bystander, being taken hostage, being threatened with a gun, or seeing someone dying, among other events. The report notes that just 3-5% of the United States’ 18,000 law enforcement agencies have suicide prevention training programs. – New York Daily News
“There is ample evidence to suggest that many first responders deny or resist seeking mental healthcare due to the longstanding stigmatization. Research literature suggest that for many, there is an underlying fearof being subjected to ridicule, prejudice, discrimination, and labeling. Sadly, the truth is that these issues are often perpetuated by those who lack a clear understanding of mental healthcare and mental illness. As a community, first responders have an invisible integrity that they believe differentiates them from the general public. In the community of first responders, there have been countless lives lost to suicide over the past few months. The most prevalent feature of a number of the first responder suicides is an underlying mental health issue often related to traumatic stress.” – Asa Don Brown, PhD in Psychology Toda
In fact, results indicate that 44.5% screened positive for clinically significant symptom clusters consistent with one or more mental disorders. This proportion appears significantly higher than previous research and comparison to diagnostic rates for the general population, in which estimates range near 10.5%.
The study also revealed some significant differences between public safety categories in frequencies of positive screens that warrant further investigation. For example, when comparing the data between paramedics and firefighters, the study found higher rates of PTSD (24.5%), depression (29.6%) and panic disorder (10.3%) among paramedics. The results also indicated that rates for these same mental health measures were lower for paramedics when compared to corrections officers where PTSD (29.1%), depression (31.1%) and panic disorder (12.2%) were all higher.
Our goal is to heal trauma and allow our military, both active and veterans, as well as first responders, be able to develop resilience in their brains so that they can live a full life. This includes a goal to intentionally save lives, save marriages, keep families together and allow for continuation in a career for those who want to continue serving.
Equine Therapy is a proven scientific based modality for the treatment of trauma. Our licensed and certified teams work with members of the military, first responders and their families. Our therapy model is goal focused, set in the outdoors and partners with horses and mother nature to process trauma and allow for healing. The model we primarily practice is through the Natural Lifemanship Institute.
We bring this life-changing service to our communities at an affordable cost by asking our donors to fund the sessions specifically to provide only the highest level of professional mental health services, by a team of highly trained, licensed and passionate therapy teams, safe and healthy horses, a beautiful peaceful and safe environment with every effort made to maintain confidentiality and anonymity. Our donors provide for the majority of the cost, so it is affordable and accessible.
“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask were the good way is, and walk in and you will find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16