Blind Horses are Helping Combat Vets with PTSD Get Second Chance at Life


Posttraumatic stress disorder has to be one of the worst mental-health afflictions plaguing humanity. It seems especially cruel since it strikes people who have already survived some sort of terrible catastrophe.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, PTSD symptoms usually crop up within three months of a particularly traumatic event. However, they can appear at any point, even years after an incident.

Many overcome PTSD within the space of about half a year. But others never manage to surmount the disorder and struggle throughout the rest of their lives, their lingering anxiety a chronic condition.

That’s why it’s so important to find innovative ways to deal with PTSD, particularly when we try to support our military members as they return home from the battlefield. And Flurry’s Hope Blind Horse Rescue is one of the most interesting.

Dr. Emilie Storch understands what it’s like to need some relief. A clinical psychologist by trade, she received a muscular sclerosis diagnosis in 2001.

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According to the NW Observer, she found herself so depressed that she couldn’t get out of bed. Then someone special entered her life: a blind horse named Freckles.

Storch threw herself into caring for Freckles, the equine giving the doctor a newfound purpose. Then one day the unthinkable happened: Storch found Freckles lying dead on the ground.

“She had given me a will to live, and I didn’t know what to do,” Storch said. “Then I found out that people were killing these animals, and I couldn’t believe it.”

That was how Flurry’s Hope was born, and in addition to caring for horses no one else wants, the organization also reaches out to veterans who continue to suffer even after the fighting has finished. Vietnam veteran Mike Kennedy understands what that feels like.

The Veterans Program Director at Flurry’s Hope, he also suffers from PTSD. He began volunteering at the farm some five years ago and experienced the peace the beautiful, damaged animals can bring.

“I noticed that my stress level started dropping down,” Kennedy told WFMY. “I have no words to express the level of love that (a horse named Fanny) shows me.”

Other veterans help Storch and Kennedy care for the horses, a combination of volunteerism and therapy. Kennedy stated that just speaking with the animals made all the difference in his life.

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“If you’ve never been in combat, you don’t even know what (the soldiers are) talking about, you know, and the person doing the talking, the veteran, it’s hard to express the things that need to be expressed,” he explained. “You come out here, and these horses will stand there, and they will listen to you.

“They will not judge you. It’s just (a) temporary escape from the human world.”

Storch, though, wants Flurry’s Hope to be more than a mere refuge. She hopes it will testify to the Almighty’s grace.

“In this society, perfection is killing us,” she said. “We are a demonstration that God cares about those who are unloved, who feel like they have no place and especially for combat veterans.”

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A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine.
A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine. Most days find him crafting copy for corporate and small-business clients, but he also occasionally indulges in creative writing. His short fiction has appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines. Loren currently lives in south Florida with his wife and three children.
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