MONROE CO., Mich. (13abc Action News) - Coming home is often not easy for the men and women who serve our country. A local organization is using horses to help some of our heroes heal. It's called the "Healing of our Veterans Through Equine- Assisted Services" or HOOVES program.
It was started 4 years ago and it's helped hundreds of veterans and their families The goal for next year is to expand the reach.
Sam Howard is one of the veterans whose life has been changed by the horses, "I just couldn't adjust coming home." Sam served in the Navy from 2002-2006 during Operation Iraqi Freedom, "I gave up on everybody, and I gave up on myself, I was even a homeless veteran at one time." Sam fought back. He now has a place to call home and the training sessions with horses are giving him even more hope, "As I learn to control the horses I am learning to control myself and the problems in my life."
Sam had no prior experience with horses and has only taken part in two training sessions, but the animals have already had a profound impact on him, "It is so hard to describe what horses can do for you."
Amanda Thompson can relate, "I had my own struggles with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and some other emotional struggles like depression and I find my healing in horses." That's why she founded HOOVES, "Hitting rock bottom created such a void in my life that when I figured out how to fill that void I decided that I will never stop doing this. I will stop at nothing to bring this healing to every person who wants to listen."
Through the training with horses, Amanda says the veterans are forced to face challenges with the animals by their side, "We actually create obstacles in the arena that represent obstacles in life. The magic of the horse is they have an innate ability to read out body language so they actually project back to us what we are projecting to others. It is the most powerful therapy I have ever seen."
All this help is free.The program relies on donations and grants and Amanda doesn't get paid, "These men and women have paid the price, they should not have to pay to get better. As a community it is our responsibility to help all these veterans, they fought for our freedom." Amanda and others who are part of the program plan to keep fighting to help vets through their struggles with the help of these horses
The training sessions take place at several barns around northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan and Amanda hopes to add more training workshops next year. .If you'd like to donate or take part in the workshops, we've posted a link at the top of the story.