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Home » RiseUp for Veterans: Our One-Year Anniversary!

RiseUp for Veterans: Our One-Year Anniversary!

Happy Veterans Day!

Veterans Day is a special day at HorsePlay Therapy Center. First and foremost, it is a day where we get to pay respects to our treasured veterans in the community. Secondly, it is the one-year anniversary for our RiseUp for Veterans Program!

Last year, on 11/11/2021, we launched our RiseUp for Veterans program. The mission of the RiseUp for Veterans is to enhance the quality of life for our service men and women and their families by bringing horses and people together through a comprehensive equine assisted therapy program. We assist veterans through equine assisted learning and therapy. Therapy can be the difference between life and death for a veteran. Our Rise Up for Veterans Program helps wounded Veterans, those suffering from PTSD, and their families heal from the physical and emotional wounds of war. HorsePlay Therapy Center offers comprehensive clinical support services and equine-assisted therapies for veterans. Both riding and non-mounted activities help rebuild the trust and connection vital to physically and emotionally wounded veterans and their loved ones. All activities are conducted by certified instructors, mental health professionals, and trained volunteers.

Today to celebrate, we interviewed our friend, James, about his experience and the impact HorsePlay Therapy Center has made in his life this past year. “Mr James”, as our children lovingly call him, is a Vietnam veteran, participant in our RiseUp program, and now, a cherished volunteer in our children’s program.

Mr James, what brought you to HorsePlay Therapy center?

“Four or five years ago, the VA had a lady there who talked about HorsePlay. Years later, after the ribbon cutting ceremony, I read about it in the paper and a mutual friend of the barn helped me get in contact”

In previous conversations, you’ve described yourself as a “therapy hopper”. What changed when you came to HorsePlay?

“Now, I have something to connect to, I have the horse to connect to. Before, it was just sitting down and talking across the table. Now, I have something to gauge my emotions with: the horse. You can interact with the horse and feel yourself through the animal as you’re interacting with them. It’s been a very important difference, you know. You have something that will love you unconditionally”

What was the most impactful part of the RiseUp program to you?

Now, it is getting to volunteer and working with the kids. I don’t even have to work with them, I just have to see their smile on their face and that’s therapeutic enough for me. That makes me happy for 3-4 days

(Note: the children also love Mr. James very much, too!)

How has RiseUp affected your life outside the barn?

“It gave me another interest, a hobby. It gave me a passion.” 

 What is something you wish you could tell yourself a year ago prior to starting this program?

“This program gives you so much hope. And most importantly, it makes you humble and grateful for what you have. It keeps you grounded.” 

Mr. James and King

Thank you to Mr. James for taking the time to talk to us about your experience with the RiseUp for Veterans program. To all of our veterans out there, near and far, thank you for your service. We are forever indebted to you for your sacrifices for this country.

Interested in participating in RiseUp for Veterans? We are now accepting new patients through the VA for the Rise Up program for January 2023. Please reach out at horseplaytherapycenter@gmail.com or 904-315-8525 for more information.