Beth Kornegay Special for the Times
A Business is opening an office in downtown Basehor to help more veterans and first responders who have experienced trauma. Julie Baker is the founder and executive director of Horses & Heroes, Inc., a nonprofit organization she started in 2014.
As a military wife and mother of four children, three of whom are associated with the military, Baker is a horse lover who discovered early on that traumatized horses needed the same things as people to help heal. visible and invisible injuries caused by negligence. , trauma and broken trust.
As a Certified Equine Specialist and Certified Military Designation Provider, she uses nearly a dozen scrapped and abandoned rescue horses at the organization’s stables in Shawnee to find common ground and establish true relationship with animals. As horses arrive neglected and abused with wounds and scars, clients and horses go through transformations.
In 2014, Baker was sitting on her couch when she got the urge to research equine therapy. She found a page for the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association, an organization that certifies licensed mental health practitioners and qualified equestrians to practice their model of mental health services, designed exclusively to help military veterans.
After learning more, Baker immediately knew that this program was something she was meant to be involved in. In just a few weeks, she launched her new non-profit business and not a day goes by that she doesn’t dedicate her talents and time to the program by helping to provide a safe and effective way to provide therapy for help mend the deepest wounds in both body and soul.
“Horses & Heroes is a path to recovery for many who do not seek traditional guidance or who are stuck in traumatic memories or physical emotional pain. I wanted to help service men and women who have returned home and fight an unseen battle that I cannot imagine. After my own experience of rehabilitating a traumatized horse when I was only 12 years old, I wondered if these horses with their own injuries, traumas and neglect could we help heal,” she said.
Baker has a unique set of circumstances to understand the needs of service members and the trauma they may have experienced. All military deployments entail possible exposure to life altering or ending situations in addition to being subject to possible fatal injuries, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as loss of lives, limbs or fellow combatants.
Once home, veterans often struggle with serious injuries, loss of identity, lack of self-esteem, difficulty finding employment and reintegrating into society, which results in a feeling of disconnection, isolation and inability to express their traumatic experiences. If left unresolved, trauma can alter brain structure and function, which can lead to increased risk factors for illness, anxiety, depression, and suicide.
“Our veterans don’t have to suffer for the vital work they do. Trauma affects the whole body and can even alter our DNA. Unresolved trauma is linked to virtually every illness you can think of, both emotionally and physically,” Baker said.
Basehor’s office opens to provide additional services and help with healing. The services that will be offered there will include therapies that promote healing of the body and brain. Later this year, neurofeedback, which is a targeted therapy for brain function that can reduce symptoms of PTSD, will also be added.
Military and first responders and their families can receive eight weeks of equine therapy free of charge.
Horses & Heroes will have an office at 2722 N. 155th St. in Basehor starting March 1. An open house will be held on April 1 and 2 so anyone interested in learning more can stop by. Details of this event are available on the organization’s Facebook page.