A therapeutic program in Washington County is utilizing everything a farm has to offer to help mend relationships between military members and their families.
The program focuses on struggles families may face with deployment and the military lifestyle.
“Winston Churchill said it best: ‘There’s something about the outside of a horse that’s good for the inside of a man.’ That’s true for women and children of all ages,” said Laura Lane-Unsworth, executive director of Brave Heart.
Jeff and Laura Unsworth, owners of Larkspur Lane Farm and creators of the Brave Heart Heroes, Equine Adventure and Riding Therapy Program are focusing on life after deployment for servicemen and women.
From horses, turkeys, chickens and sheep, the Unsworths are using their animals and land to help heal and strengthen veterans, active servicemen and their families.
“Working with a horse – especially for our members that have post traumatic stress – they’re often in a state of hyper-vigilance. They’re always looking around the corner, what’s coming around the corner next. A horse is a prey animal and lives very much in this same sort of state daily,” Laura Lane-Unsworth said.
The couple has firsthand knowledge about the military lifestyle – which is one of the reasons why they felt compelled to start the program.
“While I was deployed, we deployed to Iraq, and then subsequently repositioned to Kuwait as all forces were pulled out of Iraq. And through Skype and emailing, Laura and I discussed what would eventually become the Brave Heart Program,” said Jeff Unsworth, co-founder.
The therapeutic riding and time spent with the farm animals serves as a resource for veterans and their families to help with PTSD and extended periods of absence.
Not only is there horseback riding, they have a trail, arts and crafts and other activities that are designed to help relieve stress.
“We just felt there was a niche to this to fill that not only worked with the service member and the veterans, but also brought their families out here as well, so we could try to re-establish and strengthen those family relationships,” Jeff Unsworth said.
They said it’s hard to put into words just how amazing it is to see someone’s life improve through their animals and program.
The Unsworths will be honoring veterans off of the farm with an initiative called Blessing Bags, where donations will be made to the North Point Veteran’s home in Hagerstown.
To learn more about the program, click here.