We believe that while the Veterans Affairs Hospital system provides a lot of services and treatments for veterans, it fails in being able to explore non-traditional and less popular methods or treatments due to laws, regulations, and personal bias.
Through our X-Therapy program, we hope to use professionals outside the VA System to use treatments such as marijuana, mushrooms, equestrian, and other methods in hopes of treating PTSD to reduce Veteran suicide. The VA is prohibited from exploring this avenue and we hope to work with the University of Missouri-Columbia, Washington University-St. Louis, and the University of Missouri-KC through their research teams to document each phase of the study to qualify methods as truly therapeutic and not just a placebo.
Statistics many are unaware of when dealing with Veterans, especially combat veterans.
- About 300,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans suffer from PTSD or major depression, and about 320,000 may have experienced at least a mild concussion or TBI in combat. RAND Corp. study released in 2008.
- In 2008 one in four veterans were diagnosed with PTSD, and some experts believe this could increase to one in two by 2011 years end. –PTSD Foundation of America.
- 11-20% of Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars; as many as 10% of Gulf War; and about 30% of Vietnam Veterans have PTSD. –Dept of Veterans Affairs PTSD affects about 7.7 million American adults in a given year. NIMH- 2005 National Co-morbidity Survey-Replication study.
- An estimated 5 percent of Americans—more than 13 million people—have PTSD. – Sidran Institute.
- Untreated mental health problems among returning troops will cost the nation up to $6.2 billion over two years in medical costs, lost productivity, and lives lost to suicide. A RAND Corporation survey, Invisible Wounds of War: Psychological and Cognitive Injuries, Their Consequences, and Services to Assist Recovery.
- PTSD is often accompanied by depression, substance abuse, or other anxiety disorders as well as physical complaints such as chronic pain, fatigue, stomach pains, respiratory problems, headaches, muscle cramps or aches, low back pain, or cardiovascular problems and can include self-destructive behavior such as alcohol or drug abuse and suicidal tendencies. –Sidran Institute.
- While there is no cure for PTSD, early identification and treatment of PTSD symptoms may lessen the severity of the condition and improve the overall quality of life for veterans suffering from this condition. *Veteran’s newsroom statistics.
- Individuals with a TBI are twice as likely to die as a similar non-brain injured cohort and had a life expectancy reduction of seven years. –Brain Injury Assoc. of America (Harrison-Felix et al., 2006).
- TBI is the leading cause of epilepsy in the young adult population. –Brain injury Assoc. of America.
- In the U.S. alone, every year, over 125,000 individuals who sustain a TBI become disabled. –Brain Injury Assoc. of America
Equine Assisted Activities and Therapy in Veteran’s rehabilitation
- Equine Therapy / Animal-assisted Therapy has shown to be effective in treating patients, including combat veterans, with PTSD, depression, anxiety, attentiondeficit/hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorders, dissociative disorders and other chronic mental illnesses. Journal of the American Medical Association.
- More than 30 VA Medical Centers are participating in Equine Assisted Activities (EAA) programs all around the US as noted by the Supervisory Recreation Therapist Department of Veterans Affairs.
- Horses are highly reactive and mimic human emotions – requiring calm and non-reactive communications which promotes emotional awareness, emotion regulation, self-control, and impulse modulation. Working with horses in a therapeutic setting offers instant and constant feed back to participants, requires physical strength and balance, and is highly motivational – combining to make an exceptionally effective rehabilitation environment.
Testimonial from a veteran’s equine program: “From a clinical view, the CHAPS program met and exceeded expectations. All of the participants’ symptoms were reduced as a result of the program, but what was also evident was the accelerated rate at which this occurred. My colleague Dr. Benson and I were more than satisfied.” –Dr. Rusty Reynolds, VA Medical Center psychologist with the Children, Horses and Adults in Partnership (CHAPS) Equine-Assisted Therapy program; Sheridan, Wyoming