Imagine you are a soldier returning from war. You have been trained to NOT trust and return home traumatized by war. Then you are invited to learn to trust again. You do this by entering a small ring with a 1200 pound horse.
This fall, I had the pleasure of working with Debbie Loucks of Join Up International to understand trust, compassion, kindness, and care. She guided me through the Join Up program to see how engaging with a horse can turn anger, fear, and PTSD into the emerging stages of trusting relationships. Debbie’s convictions, words, tears, and passions about supporting soldiers with PTSD awakened my awareness to this huge veteran issue.
I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not a horse person. Yet, there was something about Join Up International that captured my attention. We hear about PTSD, I see it in the homeless population in my town, but it has not touched my life directly. Yet, working with Debbie helped me to see PTSD touches all of our lives. These soldiers were sent to war on our behalf and we need to help them reenter society with work, health care, and support. Join Up International is one such program that brings hope to soldiers suffering with PTSD.
I’ve never been drawn to horses but I recently visited Flag Up Farms and got to see first hand the power of trust that can emerge between a horse and a human being. What strikes me most about the work that Debbie and Join Up International are doing is that they are encouraging people who have lost the capacity to trust to learn to trust again. There is no quick fix to lost trust. But Debbie, Join Up, and others are helping to rebuild trust in a fractured world. I can never imagine what it is like to return from war with PTSD. Yet, supporting Join Up International is one small step I can take to support the men and women who served my country.
What’s one step you can take to help a veteran with PTSD this Veteran’s Day?