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Healing America’s Heroes to expand programs

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By Tris DeRoma

Healing America’s Heroes, an organization that helps veterans heal mentally and physically through equestrian activities and fly fishing, is hoping to open its program up to even more veterans soon.

The non-profit organization is working with Northern New Mexico College in Española to present three-day workshops

“We’re in talks with Northern New Mexico College right now, it should probably be in March,” Healing America’s Heroes founder Eddie Crain said.

Since it’s founding in 2013, the organization has been running a weeklong program in Tierra Amarilla showing veterans how to cope with their mental and physical trauma through horsemanship and fly fishing.

They will be held June, July, August and September. The three-day programs will begin in March and run through June.

The organization has 12 horses, and is always looking for more, according to Crain and board member Don Brooks.

The organization is supported by grants and donations.

The group had a presentation at the Los Alamos Rotary Club Tuesday, which featured James Barber, a therapist who works with Healing America’s Heroes.

He said veterans, because of their combat experience, share similarities between with horses, as they too are naturally hyper-vigilant and hyper-reactive to certain situations.

As veterans learn to care for and ride their horses, a bonding happens that is both therapeutic to both horse and rider. A feeling of mutual trust develops and they both become calmer, Barber said.

“Pretty soon, that horse figures out you’re not going to kill it, you’re not going to eat it… they’ll start relaxing. When you stop, the first thing they’ll do is come up and check you out. The beginning of trust, the beginning of connectedness,” Barber said.

Los Alamos Rotarian Doug Wilson found Barber’s talk very interesting, especially when Barber talked of the psychological benefits veterans received from caring for horses.

“It was fascinating… the biological connection and the explanation of why horses would be good for post traumatic stress disorder,” Wilson said. “It’s very unique.”

For more information about Healing America’s Heroes, visit healingamericasheroes.com