Dear Friends of the National Center for Healthy Veterans (NCHV) at Valor Farm,
Summer is on it’s last lap. With the onset of September and the passage of Labor Day, we are reminded that our remaining months of warm sunshine and long days are limited. This pending change in season is clearly demonstrated by nature about us at Valor Farm – first leaves are falling, squirrels are busy gathering, and nature is preparing for the coming transition. So it is with students beginning a new year, workers beginning new jobs, and Veterans transitioning from their secure military world to an uncertain civilian life.
Transition is often difficult. Preparation makes it manageable. Our theme this month is “Preparation,” applicable across scenarios ranging from the shift in seasons to a shift in careers to a shift in well-being based on trauma or transition. Regarding the latter, our Patriots are currently studying Resilience God Style with a focus on the Resilience Life Cycle (RLC). The first phase of the RLC is PREPARATION: Getting Ready for the storms of life with physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, and relational preparation. This preparation is the ounce of prevention worth a pound of cure, as well as the catalyst for resilience “reflexes” which lead to better outcomes in the midst of trauma and transition.
In support of this preparation theme, see the content below:
- Plays of the Day – August Volunteer Day, Hopes Legacy Partnership, Equine Assisted Therapy, Patriot Teamwork, and our upgraded NCHV website.
- Meet the Team – Caitlin Hamm, our Barn Manager and ARCH Certified Therapist.
- Diving Deeper – The Power of Equine Assisted Therapy, helping Veterans get ready for and recover from the storms of life
- In The Media – IBOAI film project
- Prayer Points – Massing God’s artillery on behalf of Veterans, America, and the world.
These are important days at the National Center for Healthy Veterans as we PREPARE to build Village 2, to enrich our programs to take care of Veterans, to be good stewards of God’s creation at Valor Farm as Fall and Winter approach, to accept larger numbers of Patriots in our expanded capacity, and to save even more lives from the scourge of Veteran suicide. As I have shared with our NCHV staff, we are at “the end of the beginning.” We continue to PREPARE for our expanding work of Returning Healthy Veterans to America.
Every day we are in a battle for the lives of our Nation’s Veterans. We greatly value your encouragement, prayers, Veteran referrals, and tangible support to keep us in this fight!
Blessings to each of you,
Robert F. Dees
Major General, U.S. Army, Retired
NCHV President & CEO
YOUR encouragement and generosity
have made these amazing things happen at Valor Farm. We certainly welcome and need your further support on behalf of Returning Healthy Veterans to America!
Join our Healthy Veterans Community!
Plays of the Day
- August Volunteer Day – an enthusiastic group of volunteers who did amazing work to get the farm ready for new patriots, the colt starting event, and general beautification – painting fences, building the arena boardwalk, and flower box construction for Patriot tiny homes.
- Hopes Legacy Partnership – a fellow Spirit of Virginia award recipient NCHV is partnering with, helping to train their rescue horses and demonstrating to a community audience how to train a horse from the ground up. Jake Corwin, Valor Farm ranch foreman and 3C horse owner, skillfully transformed a young colt into a saddled and rideable horse in one day.
- Equine Assisted Therapy – Valor Farm now has 3 ARCH Certified equine therapists headed by Caitlin Hamm and three more interns in training who guide our Patriots and others through therapeutic equine therapy sessions. This is a powerful tool to help Veterans overcome mental and behavioral challenges.
- Patriot Teamwork – Our current cohort of Patriots showed great teamwork to build a boat dock on our Valor Farm pond. It is fun to watch them take ownership of this project, as well as the way they are “leaning into” their current Resilience God Style curriculum.
- Upgraded Website – Randy Beck and NCHV Board Member Chris Bourne did a great job, creating a more interactive and Veteran-facing website to assist with referrals and orientation of prospective Patriots and donors. Check it out and let us know what you think!
Meet The Team
Although my first encounter with horses was 23 years ago, I am still passionate about them today. For a big animal to be so gentle and caring to something so much smaller shows their intelligence and nurturing qualities. Their sensitivity and intuitiveness make them ideal for therapy. I began training in English-style riding, specifically hunter jumper and show jumping. During 12 years of horsemanship, I learned skills such as grooming, basic health indicators, equipment care, stable etiquette, riding, etc. I received my Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies: Psychology and Social Science and my Associate of Arts in Psychology from Liberty University in 2019.
My father introduced me to the National Center for Healthy Veterans. A veteran himself, he wanted to help soldiers suffering from trauma heal physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and relationally. His service inspired me, and I soon joined him at NCHV as a volunteer. Recognizing my experience and skills in horsemanship, I was invited to become a full-time staff member. I assumed responsibility as barn manager in early 2022 and completed my certification in Equine Therapy through ARCH (Arenas For Change) in June of that same year.
Being a facilitator means I work closely with our Patriots, establishing trust-based relationships and teaching them about our horses to understand their own experiences and trauma. It also allows me to utilize my degree in psychology while combining my love of horses with my desire to help restore healthy Veterans to America.
By Caitlin Hamm
Horses are empathetic and intuitive beings. They are very perceptive and communicate through body language and energy transference. Their survival depends on being able to read and react to the unseen changes in their herd and environment. They unconsciously use those innate traits to communicate and awaken something in us. Whether that is fear, excitement, curiosity, love. They challenge us to communicate in the same way, by being still, listening, observing, and feeling.
What is Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy?
Equine-assisted Psychotherapy utilizes the innate connection between horses and humans to allow clients to externalize and process emotions and/or behaviors. Due to the attentiveness required when interacting with horses, EAT programs help people stay in the moment by focusing on the needs and behaviors of these animals so that they remain safe and healthy. This allows a client to build their self-confidence, self-awareness, and empathy (American Psychological Association, 2023). By combining EAT and Natural Horsemanship training, clients are also able to acquire a sense of responsibility; and improve in areas such as communication, teamwork, leadership, and social skills (American Psychological Association, 2023).
What is Arenas for Change (ARCH)?
Arenas for Change (ARCH) is an equine-assisted psychotherapy process that combines narrative therapy and experiential therapy (Boyce & Esposito, 2022). Interactions with the horses and their environment can develop into a story about past, present, and future experiences that are influencing a client. The horses then become part of the story process which allows the client to externalize and process the situation in a healthy way.
In The Media
- We are grateful for the new Patriot who has joined us this month. Join us in prayer for his growth and future success.
- Without mentioning specifics, pray for the many Veterans and their families in our midst who have financial issues, health crises, relational dysfunction, and suffer from mental and emotional challenges. May God bring wellness to Veterans throughout the land.
- Join us in praising God for the beauty of His Creation at Valor Farm — horses, rivers, cattle, valleys, chickens, the fruit of the land, the beauty of the fields, the wonder of His Creation.
- Join us in praising God for the amazing Army of NCHV volunteers, a multitude of generous supporters, and faithful staff.
- Pray that God would steady the hand of the 22 Veterans a day that are considering ending their lives.
- Pray that God will provide laborers and resources to “Return Healthy Veterans to America,” and may these Healthy Veterans provide unique contributions to America as role models, parents, educators, coaches, business professionals, and societal role models.