Valley organizations team up to send Arizona veterans to equine program

PHOENIX (FOX 10) - They are peaceful and serene -- God's creatures.

"There's something about the horse-human connection that is at the core of who we are," Caitlyn Oponski said.

Oponski owns and operates Corral West Horse Adventures.

"We see it all the time here at Corral West. We have a ton of therapeutic programs and we've seen it work for other people with other emotional trauma," she said. "Why not veterans, too?"

Oponski is teaming up with Concerned Veterans for America Foundation and Heroes for Horses. The goal is to send two Arizona residents, veterans who suffer from severe PTSD, to Montana.

"They have found that putting veterans through these challenges in the rigged wilderness of Montana, that re-establishes trust, confidence and brings them back to the strong character they originally had," said Joshua Stanwitz, coalition director for Concerned Veterans for America Foundation.

The equine program lasts 40 days and boasts a 98 percent success rate.

The cost is $10,000 per person.

"Post-traumatic stress is huge," Stanwitz said. "You see it with the unfortunate number of veteran suicides -- 22 a day."

"They have to be nominated, usually by their family members, when they've tried everything else," Oponski said.

Caitlyn has seen first-hand how horses can heal and how they rebuild hope. She will be volunteering in Montana this summer and is eager to make a difference there.

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