There is one segment of our population which is not experiencing much spaciousness. It is veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder).
We sent this group off to war, they did their jobs and, as a result, many have been so traumatized by their experiences, they’ve come back home unable to cope with civilian life. Our government provides inadequate treatments that fail to help, rocketing a startling suicide rate.
The New York Times ran an article recently profiling one of these vets and his dysfunctional, abysmal life. I was so moved by his story I referred him to a website showcasing a treatment program called Saratoga WarHorse. No meds, no psychobabble, just a simple, natural, spacious (if you will) connection between a man and a horse.
Here’s the deal: oversimplified, a veteran and a retired racehorse are paired in a round pen. They develop a bond of trust that dramatically affects the outlook of the veteran. It’s as if a switch has been turned on. Apparently it happens on a neurological level and on a spiritual level. It is good for the soul of both the human and the horse. It is saving lives. It’s about as “spacious” as anything I’ve ever seen. Simple, natural, vulnerable… creature healing creature.
I got involved in this work when I met people who had lost loved ones, young and in the prime of life, to suicide as the result of PTSD. There are so many problems that we all hear and read about it in the world. We can’t address them all. But we can get involved in something, and I knew that — for me — this was something practical and effective I could be a part of, and that lives are being saved through Saratoga WarHorse.
Most importantly, share news of this extraordinarily effective program, happening in Saratoga Springs, New York and Aiken, South Carolina, with those who might benefit from the relief it is bringing to veterans.
Anne Campbell serves on the Board of Directors of Saratoga WarHorse.