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RefillWise Partner Spotlight: Meet Equest

by Jen Simpson July 3, 2017 News

While we celebrate and give thanks this Independence Day for our nation's freedom and those who serve to defend our liberty, the unfortunate truth is that military families are largely underserved when it comes to health resources. According to the latest data from SAMHSA, there are approximately 23.4 million U.S. veterans, 2.2 million military service members, and 3.1 million immediate family members. Close to 20% of all veterans who served in Afghanistan or Iraq returned home with traumatic brain injuries, and an almost equal number report symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Only half of those who need treatment actually seek it, and just half of those who do get help feel that they received adequate care. This is only the tip of the iceberg, as our servicemen and women face a litany of issues, both in terms of combat-related hardships, disabilities, and problems resuming a normal civilian life. With this in mind, it’s sadly no wonder that this group also has very high rates of suicide, substance abuse, and trouble with the law upon return. Moreover, it’s not only these brave men and women who suffer, but also their families.

The statistics are grim, but one particular organization is working tirelessly to help fill the gaps in care, as well as remove the stigma associated with getting help. Given that Independence Day celebrates our country, the great people who protect it, and those who call it home, we’ve decided to highlight some of the work our partner Equest does with our military servicemen and women as well as their families, particularly through their Hooves for Heroes program.

Hooves for Heroes: A Boon for Active and Retired Military

We were lucky enough to get a few moments with Jeff Hensley, who heads up Equest’s Hooves for Heroes program. Hooves for Heroes is just one of the many community offerings of Equest. Overall, the organization provides equine therapy and horse-related activities to many groups, and their services help people who are struggling with physical disabilities, those recovering from injury, and individuals in need of alternative mental health options. In their words, the organization’s mission is: “To enhance the quality of life for children and adults with diverse needs using horses to bring hope and healing through equine-assisted activities and therapies.”

Hooves for Heroes is a Free Program

Active duty service personnel, members of the Guard or Reserve, any veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces, and their immediate family members are able to take advantage of the Hooves for Heroes program at absolutely no cost to them. Offerings include a full wellness program with individual and group support, as well as clinical services, such as mental health and physical therapy, offered in conjunction with the individual’s primary care physician as part of a comprehensive treatment program. Oftentimes, newcomers enter the program while struggling with things like depression, stress from the trauma of combat, and PTSD. The program gives them the opportunity to feel good and productive again, whether that happens in a single event or across many sessions.

We Must Eliminate the Stigma

“The number one obstacle is the stigma,” says Hensley. Soldiers are brought up to be strong and fearless, so seeking help for the issues many of our servicemen and women face can feel daunting. At the same time, this is one of the many reasons why equine therapy works so well; it doesn’t feel like therapy at all. In fact, the organization tries to reach as many vets as possible with lots of different offerings, in order to provide an atmosphere that works well for the individual. For example, Hooves with Heroes puts on regular Horsemanship 101 events, which are one-time experiences that introduce military personnel to the program in a group setting. The camaraderie that emerges between enrollees can help by itself, as each person is usually dealing with similar issues, though in his or her own way. From there, many opt to take advantage of other offerings, such as the ongoing therapy.

Hooves for Heroes Helps Hundreds Each Year

According to Hensley, Hooves for Heroes helps around 20-25 people at a time, including military personnel and their families. This year, the organization expects to work with around 230 individuals overall — a number they’d like to increase if more funding becomes available. At present, they have two mental health counselors on staff, which occasionally leads to short waits for those seeking alternative mental health treatment. With the addition of a third, the program could expand and eliminate waits, so donations are always welcomed. Through the help of the community and the Hooves for Heroes program, more of our servicemen and women can create a new identity and adapt to civilian life.

Learn More About Equest

If you’d like to learn more about Equest, go to www.equest.org. You can also help spread the word about them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or head over to the dedicated Hooves for Heroes Facebook page.

About RefillWise Partners

At RefillWise, we’re undeniably proud of the work we do to serve our community, and our employees enjoy volunteering together at Equest on September 11. Our free prescription discount program also helps countless people afford the medications they need, and we give cash rewards to members who use our free card. One way our cards reach the community is through partnerships with various nonprofit organizations. Equest is one such partner whom we’re exceptionally honored to serve. Thank you for all you do, Equest! You’re making our community a better place through the lives you touch with your programs.

If you run a non-profit and think your employees, clients, or volunteers could benefit from discounted prescriptions, let’s talk. We also work with individuals who need help affording medications. If you’re struggling to pay for your prescriptions, sign up for your free RefillWise card today to save up to 80% at the pharmacy while earning cash back.

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