As a 31-year veteran and former Military physician, Sean Hollonbeck has been coping with the consequences of post-traumatic stress dysfunction within the army neighborhood for many of his life.
Prior to now a number of years, he expanded these efforts to the Panhandle, the place his nonprofit Warfare Horse Mission Gulf Coast has taken off.
Hollonbeck bought 30 acres of land on the north aspect of the Garcon Level Bridge in spring 2017 and has been slowly rising the group, which gives equine assisted remedy for individuals with PTSD, trauma and despair.
“I can’t advocate for prescribing medicine for PTSD,” Hollonbeck stated. “I need individuals to see issues via the horses’ eyes.”
The group has grown past the volunteer-only mannequin and Hollonbeck is attempting to safe extra grants and donations to develop it additional. He just lately received a lift from a barn donation from former MLB participant Jim Hutto. Volunteers plan to begin dismantling the barn this weekend earlier than transferring it to the nonprofit’s property.
“I wished to get a little bit bit of cash for it. I had some provides right here and there, and these guys got here alongside, and I assumed, that is value far more than any amount of cash,” Hutto stated. “I am not a horse particular person, however I’m a patriot.”
Who’s the person within the saddle?
Earlier than founding the Warfare Horse Mission, Hollonbeck had a prolonged medical profession with the U.S. Military.
He enlisted within the Illinois Military Nationwide Guard at age 17 and took part within the Air Power ROTC program on the College of Illinois. After that, he earned his medical diploma from the Southern Illinois College Faculty of Medication and was commissioned into the U.S. Military Medical Corps after commencement.
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He served three excursions with Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and two excursions with Operation Iraqi Freedom, first serving in Iraq in 2003 and going again as just lately as 2013. Between his excursions, Hollonbeck accomplished two medical residencies: one as a household medication resident from 1997 to 2000 at Fort Benning, Georgia, and one other from 2005 to 2007 as a joint Military-Navy aerospace medication resident at NAS Pensacola.
Throughout his time abroad, Hollonbeck stated he didn’t all the time keep “behind the fence.” He stated he was within the entrance of quite a few fight missions.
“If in case you have a man harm far ahead, then you definitely’re no good again at base,” he stated.
What he skilled abroad, in addition to his work in emergency medication, led Hollonbeck to hunt therapy for his personal post-traumatic stress.
“After I was at this level in my profession, I used to be going to get care,” Hollonbeck stated. “And I am actually pissed off as a result of the reply is all the time, let’s put you on a sleep assist or let’s put you on this or that. I am taking a look at our practices in behavioral well being and all I may do was shake my head and say, this is not working.”
Hollonbeck sought out extra pure therapies, at which level he discovered equine assisted remedy, a apply that includes grooming, feeding and main horses to create a bond with a human.
He grew to become excited by equine remedy as a result of, he stated, horses retailer recollections equally to people and they’re herd animals, making them an excellent match for people to spend time with. He credit the remedy with serving to him cope along with his personal trauma.
So when his army service introduced him again to the world, he discovered an equine remedy program in DeFuniak Springs the place he volunteered.
That ultimately impressed him to launch his personal group, partly due to the excessive focus of veterans within the Santa Rosa County space.
He observed the open land in Milton in late 2016 and the remainder is historical past.
How Warfare Horse Mission operates
Hollonbeck, who now lives in Gulf Breeze and works as a guide for the regulation agency AWKO, splits most of his free time between his land in Milton and an equine assisted remedy farm in DeFuniak Springs the place he received most of his unique horses.
Volunteer Norm “Frenchy” LaFountaine stated nearly all the animals are regionally adopted after their unique homeowners expressed that they didn’t need them for one motive or one other. Warfare Horse Mission Gulf Coast additionally homes donkeys and cattle, amongst different animals.
“It is a win-win scenario as a result of a few of these horses have been mean-spirited or no matter, and Sean will take them in and retrain them,” LaFountaine stated. “These are all pretty native animals. Primarily from the state of Florida.”
The group hosts small occasions on weekends for teams that categorical curiosity on its web site. LaFountaine stated they’ve been internet hosting six-person occasions two to 4 occasions a month for the reason that starting of the coronavirus pandemic. As much as 5 occasions a month, veterans or their households will attain out to Hollonbeck for particular person visits with the animals.
“We’re open to teams that wish to find out about these alternatives of working with animals,” Hollonbeck stated. “We’ve got an emphasis on getting individuals to hone in on nature.”
Hollonbeck burdened that he doesn’t cost the teams and people who use Warfare Horse companies and inspired anybody who experiences trauma to not ignore it.
“I didn’t wish to go get assist,” Hollonbeck stated. “I feel it is common for people to bury (trauma), however it’ll come out. It might be when you’re in your 70s or 80s, however it must be handled indirectly.”
Imaginative and prescient for the long run
The following section for the Warfare Horse Mission Gulf Coast, which just lately obtained its 501(c)(3) nonprofit standing will contain hiring everlasting positions.
“Our greatest problem now could be we have to develop in order that we are able to get some funding. We’ve got no paid workers,” Hollonbeck stated. “However if you would like to donate, that is nice.”
Hollonbeck additionally has reserved a sales space on the annual Affiliation of the U.S. Military Exposition — the biggest Division of Protection occasion — to broaden consciousness and fundraise even additional.
His finish aim is to create a extra constant shopper base, and permit the Warfare Horse Mission to turn into an outlined neighborhood house.
“I might like to get the horses in use 5 occasions per week,” Hollonbeck stated. “I would prefer to have a schedule as a substitute of reaching out to teams one after the other.”
Hollonbeck stated he additionally desires to affect different communities affected by trauma. Not too long ago, the group hosted occasions for youngsters with autism and youngsters who’re visually impaired.
“PTSD isn’t the identical as a damaged leg, however it’s a situation. A number of the choices we have now do not work with everybody and that’s OK. And, , you don’t need to have your personal farm; we have now one for you,” Hollonbeck stated. “That is set up for our neighborhood, so individuals don’t need to get out and go far for assist.”
For extra details about the group, go to thewarhorseproject.org.