“Restoration Ranch has given me that little push I needed to keep going a little bit more every day.”

“There are a couple of phrases that I like to use regarding the word “fear,” and those phrases are, “Face Everything and Run” or “Face Everything and Rise.” As a man, father, and Veteran, I definitely found the latter far harder than I had ever imagined. In 2017, after two previous tours, a year and a half each, to Iraq and Afghanistan, a divorce, the passing of my father, a new born son, I decided to go back to school full time. This decision was made by me and my, now ex-wife, to do and achieve something for myself, not knowing that soon after, I would pay an immeasurable price for that decision and finding myself facing those challenges alone. My ex-wife decided, that after a few months into my transition from work into school, that this journey was not for her and decided to go her own way. Me being the very strong man that I am, I found myself living out my biggest and scariest nightmare, my son in a fatherless home compounded with the large remnants of war, this broke me down further than I had ever been broken. Although, I was living my scariest nightmare, extremely angry and numb from all the mounted pain, I had to keep pushing one day at a time because I had a son that I loved dearly, even though I had some days that I thought of not being a part of this world. In 2019, as I transferred from Austin Community College to Texas State University, I met Jose Perez at the Veterans lounge. As I was working alone on homework, he came in and sat down and began using the computer, that’s when he began to talk to me as if he were my friend that he knew for years. He began to tell me about the services that TSU had for veterans and how those services helped us Veterans. He told me about Restoration Ranch, a place for hurting men, fathers, and Veterans like me. Which at that very moment little did he know I was broken, hurt, angry, and a newly single man with a son to raise, without my own father. With all this I still gave him a listening ear and decided to go to Restoration Ranch, I’m glad I had that little bit left in my emotional tank to hear Jose that day. Restoration Ranch have given me that little push I needed to keep going a little bit more every day. It has provided me another opportunity to bond with my son, to see his eyes light up from being around the horses, learning about them and being around people that care for me and him. Going out to the ranch has provided a port of release from the immeasurable pain, when I had little to no relief at all, it has helped me with regaining a sense of identity and purpose. I am grateful I met Derek and his mom, Mrs. Sharon, they have committed to doing great work to helping Veterans, to not give up hope, to feel like someone is in your corner. Thank you, Restoration Ranch, for your commitment, it has helped with my new F.E.A.R, to “Face Everything and Rise.”

- Laird O

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“By working with horses I learned to trust again.”

How have horses helped me as a veteran.

 

I grew up working with horses never really noticing the bond that they had to offer. Just looked at them as fun to ride and tools to get there job done. That all changed after i got blown up in Afghanistan as a line medic in the army. I came home a very angry person always on alert and not trusting anyone. I was suffering from PTSD. I was ready to be done with all my suffering and anxiety from boot my mental and physical injuries. I was ready to commit suicide. That's when I started a therapeutic horseback riding program for veterans in Washington state. I figured I'd give it a try because the army told me i had to do something, I never expected it to actually help, but it did and drastically.

 

After starting the program I was mess. My horse wouldn't listen to a thing I asked him to do, he was acting out, angry at times, scared at times always alert and on gaurd. I didn't know what was going on but I worked through the day with him. Finally he started to listen to me.

 

I didn't realize what was going on within me but that horse did. He never asked me what I had been through or why I was the way that I was. Here picked up my energy that I was putting out there. He was exhibiting all the emotions i was feeling without even realizing it. It wasn't overnight that I realized this but over a considerable amount of time. All I knew in the beginning was that when i was working with the horses I would feel better. Safer so to speak. Like maybe I did still have a purpose here.

 

See horses are prey animals they don't trust easily so him and I we had to learn how to trust eachother and work together. He was mirroring my turmoil in the only way he could exhibit that there was a problem. It wasn't until i learned that by controlling my own emotions i could change these behavior of these animal as well. I had to learn to center myself and my own energy. By working with horses i learned to trust again. And that it was ok to have my flight or flight symptoms but that i could control them i could master them. It wasn't something that came easily or that came overnight.

 

This was a journey that took years. I could fake my symptoms in front of people and tell them i was ok. I couldn't do that with the horses. It was like they were looking into my soul causing me to have to actually confront and deal with the root cause of the problems in a way that actually worked as opposed to what i had been doing with alcohol and fighting and trying to ignore the problem.

 

It also led me to help teach therapeutic horseback riding to other veterans that were going through the same things that I had five through as well as working with other adults and children with disabilities.

 

Working with the other vets and teaching them about the powers of horses was very rewarding to me as it not only continued my own treatments but allowed me to teach others that they were not alone dealing with their problems. There is a light at the end of the long dark tunnel, but it takes lots of hard work to reach that tunnel and no one is asking you to do it alone. There's people out there willing to help. For me it took horses to reach that point and one very special horse was my quarter horse Justice who is the horse that changed my life and kept me from committing suicide.

- Richard C

“RR has not only helped me to deal with and overcome these issues but has also helped me to reconnect with my family.”

“After exiting the military I suffered from depression and anxiety. Restoration Ranch has not only helped me to deal with and overcome these issues but has also helped me to reconnect with my family. They have not only welcomed and helped me greatly but also my son.”

- James L

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