By the end of the first appointment, Pat appeared happier and felt more like himself again. In the tranquility of the pasture, he felt accepted by the herd of horses. He was especially intrigued by Bandit, an older horse the color of a copper penny. As the weeks progressed, Pat began to look forward to his time with Bandit. Despite the stresses of his day-to-day life, Pat’s worry and guilt faded away in Bandit’s presence. With Bandit, Pat felt accepted for who he was and started to feel less overwhelmed. As their relationship progressed, Pat began to talk about wanting to feel with people the way he felt with Bandit. He started sharing some of his struggles with his wife and found that his relationships with his wife and children improved.
Pat’s story is like the stories of millions of Veterans haunted by emotional trauma. As many as 30% of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans suffer from posttraumatic stress, depression, or traumatic brain injury. Furthermore, Veterans commit suicide at an alarming rate of nearly 22 each day. Many of these individuals go untreated, avoid traditional therapies, or drop out of treatment prematurely.
With an improvement rate of 82% and a dropout rate of only 11%, our evidence-informed model demonstrates a higher improvement rate and lower dropout rate for Veterans with posttraumatic stress as compared to other traditional office-based therapies. For this reason, access to viable and proven therapy options are crucial to reconnecting Veterans with their communities, their families, and themselves.