Medina County Community Fund supports veterans' recovery
In 2021, the Medina County Community Fund awarded a $2,500 grant to Forever Amber Acres Animal Sanctuary to provide free, equine-assisted psychotherapy to help treat first responders and military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other trauma-related mental illnesses. The $2,500 grant enabled the organization to offer monthly Comrades-in-Arms small group sessions free of charge to 53 at-risk military veterans and active duty service members in 2021, thus removing a barrier to access for this underserved, at-risk population.
Comrades-in-Arms serves as an adjunct to one-on-one equine-assisted psychotherapy for some V.E.T.S program participants. For others, it is a vital standalone service that allows them to meet with their peers in a safe, supportive environment where the treatment team facilitates interactions focused on resolution of lingering trauma-related issues and wounds of war.
The goal for Comrades-in-Arms was for 30% of first-time participants to return for a second session. This goal was significantly exceeded, with nearly 70% of 2021 participants returning for two or more sessions. Additionally:
- 28% of participants referred another individual to the program.
- One first-time Comrades participant transitioned to the V.E.T.S program.
Programs provide free services through grant funding, monthly sponsorships, individual donations and a robust calendar of ongoing fundraising activities. Despite pandemic-related setbacks over the past two years, Forever Amber Acres programs operated without interruption. The organization wrote in the official progress report, "We pride ourselves in responsible stewardship employing a measured growth strategy to ensure sustainability. A key 2021 strategic initiative to accept insurance in 2022 is expanding program access to a greater number of Northeast Ohio constituents."
A Success Story
We first encountered "Jeremy," accompanied by his fiancé and young son, at our event in partnership with The Wounded Warrior Project on PTSD Awareness Weekend on June 26, 2021. An Army veteran who completed two tours in Afghanistan, he shared his struggles with PTSD and that his son had witnessed him attempt suicide. Jeremy's fiancé was the catalyst for getting him to the event. Having tried many approaches to dealing with his symptoms, he was reluctant. By the end of the day, he asked about Comrades-in-Arms and attended a session in July, another in August, and brought a buddy with him in September. Jeremy had his first one-on-one V.E.T.S session in October. He's continued twice a month since that time. At his recent assessment, he stated this is the first time "in years" he has experienced sustained relief of his symptoms and has hope that he can finally recover from his invisible combat wounds.
This content was provided by Forever Amber Acres Animal Sanctuary in a progress report to the Medina County Community Fund.