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Horse therapy helps veterans cope

Basecamp for veterans
Posted at 2:03 PM, Sep 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-14 17:03:06-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — "Combat veterans have kind of in the back of their heads that we shouldn't be here," veteran Emmanuel Bonilla said. "Like there is no way we've made it back. How we are still here."

For many combat veterans coming home after the fight can be a harsh reality.

"I definitely needed something to get me on the right path and out of the war frame mindset," said veteran Samba Jrju. "But it took me a while to realize I really needed help."

Help came to both Jrju and Bonilla through Base Camp for Veterans.

"We do a week long program where we help veterans to reintegrate into society," horse trainer Jeff Cook told KGUN 9.

The veterans and their families use their experiences with horses as a form of therapy.

"I've definitely seen both veteran participants and their families leave open to more," Basecamp co-founder Deborah Plum said. "That week is really an entry way."

"The horses are a lot kinder than people think," said Plum.

So far three classes of veterans have graduated the program.

"It was awesome because I got to bring my mom and she got to experience and see my progress through the program," said Jrju. "We got to bond, connect over some of the things, and have discussions that we just haven't had before"

One graduate said the program had a big impact on his life.

"For the first time in my life I feel like I can be happy, that I do deserve to be happy," said Bonilla. "Part of that was because of this program."

"its just great to be part of a community that truly cares about you and wants to listen and understand what you've been through and the progress you're trying to make."

"Its made my family a lot better, stronger. I'm grateful….it's life changing."