Scottsdale farm offering program to help first responders heal from PTSD

A Scottsdale farm is pairing therapy and horses in an effort to heal first responders and veterans of their trauma.

At Hunkapi farms, first responders and veterans will have the chance to take part in horse therapy to heal their PTSD.

Dispatcher describes her personal struggle

Lauren Birnbaum was a 911 dispatcher for 20 years, answering calls from people on the worst days of their life, and helping them through it step by step. However, she realized the stress and the trauma of the job was taking over her life.

"I was being agitated and upset, you know," said Birnbaum. "I would go home with my kids and I didn't realize I was taking it with me."

That's when she found the farm and signed up for their six-week horse therapy program where they work with first responders to heal their trauma.

Program helps first responders cope, heal

"We really utilize the horses to teach and normalize about the stress response in the body, the horses are really attuned to stress and they are able to dissipate it," said Hunkapi Programs Executive Director Terra Schaad. "It has been a great success."

The program is all a part of a grant, so this is free of charge for the veterans and first responders.

Birnbaum learned coping mechanisms and how to be more at ease. She says it was all thanks to the horses.

"It was retracing my steps, learning how to be present," said Birnbaum.

Now that Birnbaum is on the other side, she's a mentor in the program and volunteers at the farm to continue her healing journey, hoping she can help others in the process.

"I found myself again," said Birnbaum.

The program, which lasts for six weeks, starts on Nov. 4.

Hunkapi Farms First Responder Program

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