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Horses and Heroes Helping Veterans to Overcome Stress and Anxiety

Horses and Heroes Helping Veterans to Overcome Stress and Anxiety

As we salute those who gave their lives in past wars, it might be good to remember that those who came home have their own struggles to overcome anxiety, trauma, and stress. One local organization is trying to help with that task. That organization is “Horses and Heroes.” It is a division of “Horses and Hope,” an equine assistance program for veterans.

Vickie Hancock is the coordinator locally of Horses and Heroes, which is in its ninth year of organization.

“We developed H&H specifically for veterans at no cost to the veterans. We meet at our farm in Mackeyville every other Saturday to be together as a unit and to be relaxed in the present moment, which is difficult for many who have been in the military for any time or in any situation. Horses are the mirrors to our souls. Bonding with a 1,000 lb. loving animal can be emotionally satisfying and comforting. Veterans learn a variety of equestrian skills which can improve development of patience, emotional control, self-discipline by way of repetition from start to finish of a visit with the horses and grooming. Interactions with horses also helps lower anxiety levels. This is a proven method of therapy,” Hancock told Webb Weekly. “We do ride too. This is the simple version of what we do. If you want to know up close and personally and you are a veteran, join our team and become family. Or if you want to know more, reach out, and we can make it happen.”

According to Hancock, the veterans are not charged for the time or the meals. The horses are provided totally as donations. Horses and Heroes has many fundraisers throughout the year, such as “Steel Horses For Real Heroes,” on August 25, 2024. They are always seeking monetary donations or auction items for this event. To continue to provide this good work for our veterans much time, money and passion is what keeps this work going. We deeply value the support of our community in making this possible and invite you to join us in this endeavor.

“We have developed three new programs within Horses and Heroes 2024,” Hancock said. “They are Heroes and Horses Outreach. We go out and visit veterans recovering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, having a short or a long stay in a rehab facility, veterans in nursing homes, or just shut in. We just want to give some hugs, listen, and say you have not been forgotten. We take munchies and stars cut from flags and a note of thanks.

“Another new program is Horses and Flag Recovery. If anyone in our group sees a torn and tattered flag, we ask the homeowner or business owner if we can’t take it down and give them a new flag for FREE. Before we retire the flag, we cut out the stars on it to give to veterans.”

Finally, “Heroes and Horses Wreaths Across America.” H&H has joined Wreaths Across America to provide wreaths for the more than 800 veterans interred at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Mill Hall. H&H respectfully lays these wreaths every year on December 14.

Recently, H&H renovated an old, donated horse trailer into a “Mobile Information Trailer,” nicknamed “Reckless.”