STS HORSES FOR HEROES - LETTER FROM A VETERAN
From Leslie :)
I had the most amazing time during the Horses for Heroes week in August and I truly can not Thank You and C.A.M.O enough for providing such an incredible opportunity!! For me, this trip went above and beyond in helping me to heal both physically and emotionally. Since losing more vision a few months prior, I had become very withdrawn and depressed. I felt like life was over and that I was worthless and extremely ugly. I felt damaged and alone as the blindness alienated me from everything and everyone. Even the simplest things became very difficult and I just wanted to give up. It was especially difficult to accept that I would never drive again and losing my independence really made me feel trapped. Honestly, if it had not been for you reaching out to invite me to the Horses for Heroes program, I would still be a "shut in" in my house.
Even though I was scared of what people would think of me, how I would manage getting around and even interact around new people in new surroundings, I decided to try since you believed in me! Once I arrived in Aspen, I was put right at ease and met so many wonderful and supportive people in the C.A.M.O. and Sopris Therapy Services programs. Immediately, I felt like my life was turning around. The real excitement came upon meeting my horse, Babe. I talked to her and she understood what I was saying and how I was feeling. She enabled me to succeed and gave me confidence and courage! On the second day of riding, I told Kathy and Jenna (my horse helpers who are now family to me) that being on the horse made "all of my blindness go away" and I meant that from the bottom of my heart!!!! I felt such an overwhelming sense of freedom and a new empowerment that I cried right there on the spot in the outdoor arena. It was a profound moment in my recovery and healing and one that I would never trade for the world!!!
I hope you know the positive impact you, C.A.M.O and the Sopris Therapy Services programs make on injured military service members. I do not define myself as a blind amputee anymore. We could not do it without your compassion and dedication to the programs that enable us to put our lives back together!!! Please continue the Horses for Heroes program so fellow injured military may heal too.
CPT (Ret.), U.S. Army