It has been known by many names. During the Civil War, it was called “Soldier's Heart”. During World War II they called it "Shell Shock". It has also been called "Combat Fatigue". The current label is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PSTD.
In the past, it was down played. Sufferers were told to man up. They were medicated, but instead of healing the medication turned them into zombies and created more emotional issues, which frequently had tragic results. Many have tried talk therapy. Results were limited. Most military personnel thought that only one who had lived through the experience could possibly understand the emotional and physically toil of war. Buddy therapy is an effective, but it is also limited by the number of veterans available and willing to participate.
No matter how it has been labeled, the emotional and physical ramification have caused have had tragic consequences in some veterans lives. It has cost them jobs, marriages, their freedom...even their lives. The shootings at Ford Hood are prime examples of how the over loaded system is failing our veterans. In the latest incident, the shooter asked for help and was in the process of being evaluated. But instead of the support he needed his was given drugs to deal with the symptoms instead of dealing with the core issue. The VA stats state that on average 23 veterans a day commit suicide. The number only included the eight states that keep records. Nor does it account for the veterans who suicide by enemy, cop, vehicle accident, fights, drugs or the many other ways they are statistically accounted for on other books. Many veterans and civilian organization claim the number of those who chose to die rather than live with the pain and guilt to be closer to 200.
Animal Assisted Therapy has been extremely effective for those who are physically and emotionally challenged. It has become more widely used in cases of PTSD, especially in cases of veterans. Although almost any animal can be a healer, dogs and horses are the ones most commonly partnered with veterans. Dogs have the advantage of being accepted in both cities and rural areas. However, horses are known to better reflect the mood of the person handling them. This ability is helpful for the PSTD patient to learn how to recognize their own feelings. In this way, they learn how to retrain their mind and body reacts to stressers, so they can heal what has broken and build a new life.
Horses and Heroes is not about pointing fingers or creating a political firestorm. It is a documentary, which will help military personnel and veterans find a new way to cope with the physical and emotional challenges brought into their lives by war. Equine Therapy does not involve drugs nor lying on a couch and spilling their guts. What it does do is help them find new ways to see and react to their emotional triggers. It helps their bodies remember how it used to work. It can't replace what was lost, but it can give them the confidence to see that they are more than the sum of their body parts. Horses and Heroes will give veterans and military personnel the information they need to find alternative healing solutions, which can help prevent another Fort Hood.
Courage isn't the lack of fear, but the ability to set it aside and focus on what is truly important