YOUNGSTOWN, Fla (WMBB) — The H.O.P.E. Project, or ‘Healing Our Patriots with Equines’ seeks to heal wounded warriors, veterans, first responders and families suffering by using rescue horses.
The project will be three-years-old on October 15th.
“One of the huge things is community,” said David Trogdon, the director of the H.O.P.E. project. “We probably average between 150 and 200 vets and family members and some others that we help every month. And we don’t turn anyone away.”
Trogdon and his friends with similar military backgrounds came down to Florida and started rescuing horses from that point on.
“The transition was really tough. The latest studies are saying that the transition from the military back to civilian life is so difficult that it might be more difficult than PTSD itself,” Trogdon said.
This nonprofit organization is completely volunteer-run that is no charge to vets.
“There’s just no way we could ever charge vets or first responders or families or kids that need help,” Trogdon said.
Most of their therapy horses were rescued from kill pins or after the storm.
Horses can read facials and body language, which makes it easier to work with children and families.
“It’s amazing to see the horses love on us, especially when they do things that aren’t really their normal personality. Like a horse whose not very social will all of the sudden will just love on someone because they know they’re hurting,” Trogdon said.
With many sponsors, along with personal donations and fundraising efforts, the group hopes to provide this equine-assisted psychotherapy for years to come.
“It’s just a joy to be able to help people, we’ve been blessed to be a blessing.”