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Using Horses To Ease The Transition From Deployment To Home for Veterans

When a family bonds over something unrelated to military life, everyone benefits. These activities ease the psychological strain caused by the horrors of war. Operation Free Ride, part of Horses4Heroes, helps connect families of American heroes fighting wars overseas with horses once combat veterans return home to civilian life, and give children of service members a respite from daily life. Horses4Heroes includes a full day of horseback riding, all expenses paid, for veterans and their families. Horses give military spouses and children a way to ease the stress and depression brought on by deployment, while veterans have a family activity to look forward to upon returning home.

Psychological Stresses

Military personnel can have trouble readjusting to civilian life. Soldiers who participate in battles have increased risks of PTSD and major depression, which affect as many as 18% of combat veterans and can lead to overly aggressive responses to situations at home.

Combat veterans aren’t the only ones who suffer emotional and mental stress while in a war zone. Children have increased chances of depression the longer a parent remains in an overseas deployment, says Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. This emotional stress could remain long after a parent returns home, which is where horses come into play…

Why Horses?

Horses have been part of the U.S. Military since its inception, and Horses4Heroes helps in ways people may not imagine. When service members see their kids enjoying themselves without worrying about a deployed parent, this can help to ease the mind of the soldier and make him or her more effective in his duties. Horses, in turn, give children a break from their normal lives.

Horses generally reduce stress and lift the spirits of those who interact with the gentle animals.

Operation Free Ride expanded its programming in 2013, just a few months after its founding. Instead of horse rides through network facilities, service members, first responders, and their families can attend complimentary rodeo events and races as, says My Horse Daily. This program also includes free tickets to concerts, movies, and shows. Veterans may choose to attend NASCAR races, Professional Bull Riding events and open houses at equestrian facilities.

Their mission is to put families in touch with these majestic animals as a bonding activity for veterans. Since Horses4Heroes started in 2011, thousands of families have received benefits from the free activities. Many times, families don’t know who to contact to find information about this program. Operation Free Ride wants to expand its outreach through its vast network of equestrian facilities, breeder’s associations, corporate sponsors, and military charities. More partners for the program mean it can better serve those who fight for freedom.

When Operation Free Ride succeeds, families win. The charity seeks more network facilities beyond the 200 that are already connected to the charity across 44 states.Horses can ease the transition back into civilian life as soldiers return from deployments. Do your part on the home front by supporting efforts to welcome back the troops in ways that sustain the emotional and mental well-being of their families.

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