Out of the Fog
At Saratoga WarHorse, our veterans represent every age, military branch, and invisible wound that comes from their time in service.
Chances are you may know someone just like them. Here's just one story we would like to share with you. This story was submitted anonymously by a 2019 Saratoga WarHorse Veteran Gradute.
**Trigger Warning: This story contains information about sexual assault and/or violence which may be triggering to survivors.
"In 2010 I was raped and beaten by another military member. Like many others, I suppressed the trauma, and tried to live of as if nothing happened. I blamed myself for the MST, arguing I should have never put myself in that position. Eventually, I needed to talk and went to a military Chaplain. I told the Chaplain of the trauma, and he told me if I was practicing my religion and not having sex out of marriage the rape would have never happened.
I felt so lost, so alone. But I pressed on, I had to because my kids needed me. In 2017, I finally sought help from Mental Health. I was diagnosed with PTSD, GAD and depression. I went to counseling, tried medications but there never seemed to be a solution. Eventually I searched for treatments for PTSD and found Saratoga War Horse.
"I felt accepted and worthy."
"Mary Katherine, the Director of Programs, called me and gave me some information about the program. She told me to decide and let her know, no pressure at all. I decided I wanted to try the program, because I felt I had nothing to lose and I love horses so at least I would get to see some horses.
When I arrived for the program, I was nervous, intimidated, scared to mess up. I didn’t want to talk to anyone else, I was just enduring until I got to see the horses. Then Julie Robins began to teach us horse psychology and gave us information about what to expect in the Round Pen. Julie’s description of horse psychology was uncannily relatable to what I had been feeling for the last 9 years.
After practicing, the handlers brought the horses (Zach, Hook It Up and Emblem) and the first veteran went into the round pen. The communication between the horse and the veteran was palpable. It was like the veteran was fluent in horse, and the horse was fluent in veteran. It was amazing just watching. When my turn came around, I was so full of nerves. Thanks to Caroline and Julie’s preparation, I felt good but heathy nervous. I asked Emblem to follow my lead and told her I was scared just like she was. To my surprise, she followed me!! She trusted me, communicated with me, I knew her concerns, her feelings, and how to react!! She came to me, and asked to bond and we did! She hugged me, kissed me, nuzzled me and I felt accepted and worthy.
"What happened in that round pen was true magic. There is no way to explain it. It was incredible. I walked out of the round pen with confidence, something I hadn’t felt in a LONG time!
Since I attended the program, I have been able to use what I learned from Emblem with my kids, my spouse and my other families members. I feel like I finally have control over my emotions, and confidence to make decisions. One being to pursue my dream of working with horses. I went to local farms and ranches asking to volunteer so I could learn, something I would have never done before the program. One farm eventually hired me to help, and then made me the barn manager. Everyday I get to relive the Round Pen, and strengthen the lessons I learn from Saratoga WarHorse!
If I had not attended Saratoga WarHorse, I would still be smothered, angry, tired, scared and my relationships with my spouse and children would continue to decline. Because of Saratoga WarHorse, the fog is gone, and I am mending and growing the relationships with my spouse and children.
There is no way to express how grateful I am to Saratoga WarHorse! This program will hold a place in my heart and soul forever."