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New program aims to help veterans who are struggling with the after effects of trauma

There is a new program that is helping local veterans who are struggling with the after effects of trauma.

The War Horse Project began on July 4, 2014, and is attended by eight local men and women in a unique program that involves horses to facilitate physical, mental and emotional healing. This non-traditional form of therapy can help remove the stigma that may be associated with formal office and talk therapy.

So far, feedback has been greater than expected. This is the first time this facilitation team has dealt directly with veterans and their injuries. In another pilot project with the Phoenix Centre for Children and Families, the facilitating team encountered families who were struggling to manage behaviours with their children, and it became apparent that a traumatic brain injury and/or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was a significant factor in the families' dynamics.

In an effort to satisfy the need for "evidence based research" to ensure federal funding in the future, we are using common measurement tools to gather information for use in research.

The cost to run the 16-week program (three hours per week) is around $12,000. The project was unable to secure funding, but the facilitators, determined to get the program running, volunteered their time. The four facilitators, consisting of two mental health professionals and equine specialists have committed hundreds of volunteer hours into this program, with complete conviction in not only the expected outcomes, but also in the knowledge that the funding will be secured for future intakes. The Forbes family on B-Line Road has generously donated the use of their facility and horses, making the program easily accessible to participants from Garrison Petawawa.

For anyone who thinks they may benefit from the program, they can visit www.hopereinstherapy.com or contact Alison Vandergragt, program director Hope Reins Equine Assisted Therapy Programs at 613-585-1208 for more information.


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