KALISPELL – When it comes to healing there is no time frame – it’s a process. That’s why a local non-profit organization in northwest Montana is bringing healing through horses to veterans and first responders.
Veterans and first responders suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury are receiving therapy in the Flathead Valley free through Valor Equine Therapy Services. (VETS)
Through the non-profit’s equine therapeutic programs, instructors teach wounded veterans and first responders how to interact, react and care for a horse.
According to Mental Health First Aid, first responders attempt suicide at a rate 10 times higher than the general population. And the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports that while veterans make up less than 9% of the country’s population, they account for 18% of all suicides.
Lloyd Bondy one of the millions of veterans who served our country honorably now lives in northwest Montana with PTSD but he says he found healing thanks to the equine therapy he received through the program.
He says working with the big creatures helps him thrive on personal connection and also the connection with the horse. It’s something founders of the program say they see firsthand.
“It lowers their stress level they appear to be a lot happier working with the horses,” VETS president Lynn Murray said.
“It’s about pushing yourself past whatever your limitations are. And limitations can be anything from as far as other vets as well not wanting to be out in public,” Bondy said.
“And working with these guys you get going and pretty soon you’re working with another vet and teaching them and pretty soon your basically expanding your bubble maybe you go search out in the community where you can help,” Bondy added.
VETS is currently seeking corporate sponsors while also looking for more veterans and first responders to serve.
The goal is to eventually purchase a facility in the future. All of the donated money goes directly to putting people through the program.
Call (406) 212 5486 or click here for more information.
Reporting by Nicole Miller for MTN News