Letter from HEAL's President and Co-founder
I want to bring a difficult situation and opportunity to your attention. The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that half of the 2.6 million veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars struggle with mental health problems stemming from their service. In addition, 31% of Vietnam veterans suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and make up the largest percentage of veterans who die by suicide. These men and women have made tremendous sacrifices on our behalf and often fight their toughest battles with very little support from their communities. These issues can be addressed and outcomes changed. There are a number of effective therapies to help military members reintegrate into society, one of which we are strongly passionate about.
Four years ago Dennis and I embarked on a project, with several like-minded friends, to help veterans who are working through mental and emotional challenges. We believe that it is incumbent upon us to give back and serve our military service members. Together we built the infrastructure for The HorsePower Equine Assisted Learning (HEAL) Foundation, a 501c3 public charity. HEAL was built to provide equine assisted psychotherapy services (EAP) directly to our veterans and their families. This evidence-based, innovative and effective mental health therapy uses horses as therapeutic and interactive tools that speed up the therapy process substantially. Many practitioners believe, and studies show, that EAP is extremely effective and reaches people whose needs may not be met in traditional therapy. Military members say that through EAP they have found hope. I have heard from countless military participants who say that never before have they found a session so useful and life changing. EAP is a solution-focused equine modality that helps individuals develop coping skills to live successful and healthy lives.
However, EAP is expensive and the cost of providing these sessions is only reimbursed by the VA and health insurance companies at a fraction of the actual cost—along the lines of an office therapy setting, making it impossible for most veterans to utilize this form of healing. We have set out to change that and do our part. We hope that you will join us.
Believing that “if we build it they will come”, we have built the facility with your help. We know they will come because each week we get calls from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center asking us if we are “open” yet. The need is great. The community is under-served. The opportunity to make a difference is limitless. The time for action is now.
All the best—