Horses are helping wounded soldiers with their therapy and making them feel better about themselves. It's really cool that soldiers are being helped by the horses not just by doctors in their offices. ~Declan
Caisson Platoon Equine Assisted Program helps wounded warriors
Whether he has a headache or feels depressed, Porras, one of the wounded warriors at Fort Belvoir, finds grooming the horse calms him down. After suffering a traumatic brain injury, he's one of the injured veterans at Fort Belvoir taking hold of the reins.
Instead of a confined exam room, the Caisson Platoon Equine Assisted Program meets on 10 acres of serenity.
“It's completely different than going to physical therapy at the hospital,” Staff Sgt. Richard Waugaman, a wounded warrior. “It eases the pain for while I'm here. And when I leave it's all back again.”
Members of the "old guard" who pull the Caisson for full-honor funerals at Arlington National Cemetery are the instructors.
“As they gain more confidence with the horse, we find that it improves their own self-confidence and I think probably their own feelings of self-worth,” says retired commander Sgt. Maj. Larry Pence, the program’s co-founder.
And the 1,200-pound animals, specially trained for this program, have a way of putting these at times anxious soldiers at ease.
Since launching in 2006, this program has helped hundreds of wounded warriors and inspired more than 100 horse-therapy programs for veterans nationwide.
“They (horses) won't look at you like you're weird or anything,” Porras says. “They just love you being there.”