Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans are finding some relief from their symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder with the help of animal therapy.
A new type of 12-step treatment, Saddles for Soldiers is helping veterans adjust to life after service by partnering them with not service dogs, but horses, according to CBS Los Angeles. The Southern California-based organization has returning servicemembers work with horses, thereby creating a human-animal bond and re-establishing working skills.
"There are a lot of people who don't know we are hurting. There are a lot of us who won't admit it," Blade Anthony, a veteran Marine, told the news source. "For a Marine, we always say, 'Suck it up'. You don't know you are hurting, you just keep going on. I went to the VA on Sepulveda [Boulevard]. I did all that stuff, but this really, really helped me."
Veterans meet at the Shadow Hills Equestrian Center, an 11-acre ranch located in the San Fernando Valley, for the recovery program, as well as an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, stated the organization's mental health and operations manager, Susan Kelejian.
According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, about 20 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have symptoms of PTSD.