Veteran Warhorses Help Returning Soldiers Acclimatize to Civilian Life
War horses for veterans provides veterans and first responders with the tools to reintegrate into their communities and recover from trauma. The program is based in Stilwell, Kansas. It’s an all-expense-paid equine liaison / networking experience. It was designed for combat veterans from across the country and first responders in the Kansas City area.
In a recent exchange with Small Business Trends, co-founder and military veteran Patrick Benson explains the end goal of his business:
“We envision a community of veterans, first responders and others,” he said. “They support each other as each individual moves from trauma and recovery to a productive and sustainable life.”
War Horses for Veterans pays for training, travel, accommodation, and food to participate in the Qualified Veterans Program. All participants work with horses. They get involved with care, groundwork, saddlery and different levels of driving.
Veterans Warhorses Help Soldiers Acclimatize
These programs offered by War Horses for veterans can be personalized.
“Some groups are meetings, operations decompression, bridging programs and / or leadership and communication training. This is all taught using horses, ”says Benson.
It describes a parallel aid layer.
“We use other tools that help define focus areas for groups and individuals. There is a course that has been changed for us, ”he said. “It helps to understand how each participant learns and processes information. This includes their strengths and limitations. “
There is also a 9 day mentoring program. And a new indoor facility / merry-go-round with a 2,500 square foot professional living room / kitchen. It is made up of volunteer chefs. There are also one-day workshops.
They have also just launched their first responder and culinary programs.
Benson has a personal interest in his business. He served six years in the US Army infantry, including a tour of Iraq in 2003.
“Then, just like that, I went from shooting to civilian life in a matter of weeks,” he said.
He needed help and got in touch with a contact. Benson knew a renowned horse trainer and clinician. He wrote to her about his participation in his program when he returned home in 2004.
After participating in this program, Benson started his own business called PB Equestrian LLC at that time. His entrepreneurial spirit had unintended consequences.
“What I was doing had an impact on my PTSD and TBI issues,” he said.
A few other chance encounters along the way paved the way for his new venture.
“I met a man after a clinic where I taught in North Carolina,” Benson said. “He said you were doing a great job fixing these horses, but you don’t realize they are fixing you.”
Benson learned that these gentlemen were a Green Beret from Vietnam. This veteran told him how horses saved his life. Then he began to make connections between soldiers and these animals by meeting more returning veterans.
Lessons to learn
“There were so many lessons to learn,” he says. “Like leadership, communication, feelings, thinking, peace, humility, strength, trust and love.”
Fast forward to equestrian operation, Benson took over from mentor Andy Brown in 2013.
“One day after work, Andy and I sat on the porch of his house. He turned to me and told me he wanted to help the veterans. I told him I had an idea and 30 minutes later War Horses for Veterans was born. Andy and Patricia Brown are co-founders alongside Benson.
The program has had many successes so far. They include veterans who become mentors and others who have found purpose and direction through War Horses for Veterans.
“Others have started their own programs in other areas that veterans and their own businesses need,” Benson said. “Many are able to overcome their anxiety and depression so that they can just live their lives in peace.”
Ultimately, he emphasizes that their inner strength and camaraderie are their best assets.
“Horses are the bridge, but veterans are their best therapy,” Benson says.