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Sunday, November 11, 2018

How Horses Help Veterans With PTSD to Heal

Poor Man Survival

Self Reliance tools for independent minded people…

ISSN 2161-5543

A Digest of Urban Survival Resources


   How Horses Help Veterans With PTSD to Heal

   After 10 plus years of two wars, America has experienced a significant increase in homeless veterans, wounded veterans and war-related problems challenging our nation as seen in its latest mass shooting.  Unfortunately, under the Obama administration our VA hospitals did a poor job of caring for our nation’s returning veterans and only recently has the situation improved despite anti-veteran sentiments of many of elected leaders [Sen. Stabenow in MI where I live voted against raises and health care improvements for our military and MI voters still reelected her?!]  Here’s a terrific example of how one woman ultimately won her battle…

After suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, US Navy veteran Lois Fritz had lost all hope of ever finding joy again.  But one incredible horseback riding lesson gave her an amazing new beginning and led her to help other veterans heal too.

After serving in the Navy during Operation Desert Storm Lois became an emergency room nurse but began experiencing traumatic scenes from the horrors she had witnessed along with her abusive, poverty-stricken childhood.  Enlisting in the Navy at 18 was her way out.  Afterward, she became a nurse and a mother finding comfort in caring for her patients and her son.

Unfortunately, she began experiencing panic attacks and other terrifying symptoms and had trouble focusing, her anxiety attacks became more frequent and she began to overeat and drink to numb the pain.

Desperate for help, Lois began going to counseling, where she discovered she had PTSD.  During the next several years she continued treatment and joined support groups and read several self-help books to counteract the overwhelming hopelessness that gripped her.

One day her therapist asked her a life-changing question: “What would have made 9-year-old Lois happy?”

Without hesitation Lois blurted out “Riding a horse!”

“Why not do it?” her therapist encouraged.

This is crazy.  I haven’t thought about horses in years, Lois mused, skeptical that riding could make any difference after all she had tried to help her PTSD.  But with nothing to lose, Lois gave it a shot.

During Lois’ first riding lesson, she carefully mounted the horse.  And as he began to trot, Lois felt an unfamiliar feeling rise up within her…a sense of calm and peace, like she’d never experienced before.

Stroking the horse’s silky mane, Lois smiled through welling tears…feeling hope for the first time in decades.

Thrilled, Lois knew she had to keep riding, so with her partner’s help finally bought a horse of her own, naming it Chip.

Through the unconditional love Lois found in riding Chip she slowly began to experience fewer PTSD symptoms, her world brightened, and soon an idea took hold:  if Chip could work this miracle for me, perhaps horses can help other veterans who are hurting.

In 2016 Lois and her partner used their life savings to found New Freedom Farm [], a non-profit with 20 rescued horses on 13 acres in Buchanan, VA dedicated to helping veterans recover from PTSD, brain injury, depression, anxiety and substance abuse.

For the past two years the farm has thrived, drawing in veterans nationwide.

A female veteran from Maine couldn’t stop crying when she visited as she felt so at peace.  Today at 49, Lois successfully manages her own challenges with the love of her rescue horses and this year she will host their 3rd annual Thanksgiving Feast for homeless vets!

My wife and I have taken in rescue horses and donated them to a children’s rescue when we had to leave AZ to help family in MI and know first-hand how much love and aid a horse can provide to a human as horses are hyper vigilant about their environment and will bond closely with afflicted human providing a calming influence. 

For information you can search “equine therapy for PTSD” online to find programs in your area and if you are a veteran, go to:

Finally, consider becoming a volunteer…many area stables and horse organizations [which you can find online] are glad to welcome you!

Yours for better living,

Bruce ‘the Poor Man’

Sad Postscript

In the United States we take particular pride in recognizing as heroes those who have served in the military.
Yet while we honor our veterans with holidays, parades, discounts at retail stores and restaurants, and endless political rhetoric about their sacrifice and bravery, we do a pitiful job of respecting their freedoms and caring for their needs once out of uniform.
Despite the fact that the U.S. boasts 
more than 20 million veterans who have served in World War II through the present day, the plight of veterans today is America’s badge of shame, with large numbers of veterans impoverished, unemployed, traumatized mentally and physically, struggling with depression, suicide, and marital stress, homeless, subjected to sub-par treatment at clinics and hospitals, and left to molder while their paperwork piles up within Veterans Administration offices.
Still, the government’s efforts to wage war on veterans, especially those who speak out against government wrongdoing, is downright appalling.
Consider: we raise our young people on a steady diet of militarism and war, sell them on the idea that defending freedom abroad by serving in the military is their patriotic duty, then when they return home, bruised and battle-scarred and committed to defending their freedoms at home, we often treat them like criminals merely for having served in the military.
The government even has a name for its war on America’s veterans: 
Operation Vigilant Eagle.
As first reported by the Wall Street Journal, this Department of Homeland Security (DHS) program tracks military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and characterizes them as extremists and potential domestic terrorist threats because they may be “disgruntled, disillusioned or suffering from the psychological effects of war.”
Coupled with the DHS’ dual reports on 
Rightwing and Leftwing “Extremism,”which broadly define extremists as individuals, military veterans and groups “that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely,” these tactics bode ill for anyone seen as opposing the government.
Yet the government is not merely targeting individuals who are voicing their discontent so much as it is taking aim at individuals trained in military warfare.
Don’t be fooled by the fact that the DHS has gone extremely quiet about Operation Vigilant Eagle.
Where there’s smoke, there’s bound to be fire.
And the government’s efforts to target military veterans whose views may be perceived as “anti-government” make clear that something is afoot.
In recent years, military servicemen and women have found themselves increasingly targeted for 
surveillance, censorship, threatened with incarceration or involuntary commitment, labeled as extremists and/or mentally ill, and stripped of their Second Amendment rights.

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Yours for smarter living,

Bruce ‘the Poor Man’



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Rochelle said...

Terrific article-I love horses and I support our veterans [unlike so many Democrats]...wish I could start a similar group where I live.

Larry said...

Great post!

mike said...

Here's an interesting related article:

From shell-shock to PTSD, a century of invisible war trauma