Members of the Los Alamos Rotary STARS and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8874 recently visited with Horses for Heroes’ Rick Iannucci and Nancy De Santis in the ‘bunkhouse’ onsite at the ranch in Santa Fe. Courtesy photo
The Los Alamos Rotary STARS (Service to All Rotary Satellite) and Veterans of Foreign Wars Los Alamos Post 8874 have banded together to support Horses for Heroes, an organization in Santa Fe committed to helping veterans recuperate, recreate, and reintegrate into their communities after serving their country in war.
Each organization has donated $500 to the cause. Horses for Heroes, which is completely staffed by volunteers, uses 100 percent of the money its collects in donations to help the heroes.
Horses for Heroes runs Cowboy Up!, a unique horsemanship, wellness and skill-set™ restructuring program that is free to all post 9/11 Veterans and active military. The veterans served by the program include both men and women, especially those who have sustained Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, physical injuries, and/or have experienced combat trauma during their time serving our country.
Through this program, Veterans work hands-on with the horses beginning with groundwork and progressing to riding, as well as participating in other aspects of ranch life, including working cattle and more importantly experiencing the camaraderie with cowboys who are Veterans themselves.
“Horses are quite spiritual animals,” said Nancy De Santis, Cowboy Up! Director. “When you groom a horse and feel its heart beat, hear it breathe and see its flesh twitch when a fly lands on it, you’re connecting with something greater. These creatures help our veterans to get back in touch with a living being, which helps them to connect better with their spouses, friends and all of society.”
Together, De Santis and Rick Iannucci make up the team that is dedicated to running the program full-time. In addition, other veterans and former participants in the program volunteer to help out at the ranch. Since its inception in 2009/2010, the program has served hundreds of veterans and active duty personnel, men and women.
Additionally, they conducted retreats and seminars on veterans issues across the country and have spoken to thousands people, personally and on radio and tv. The program is completely free to the veterans and receives no funding from any level of government. Typically veterans reside on the ranch in the “bunkhouse” during their stay.
Los Alamos Rotary STARS is a satellite of the Rotary Club of Los Alamos. The group provides service in three key areas:
- Internationally, with current projects in Juarez, Mexico;
- Serving local youth, by supporting sports teams, swim lessons as part of the 4th grad PE curriculum, and teens through the local Rotary Interact Club; and
- Aiding our nation’s veterans. This donation to Horses for Heroes is the group’s first foray into supporting veteran’s programs.
For more information about Los Alamos Rotary STARS, visit facebook.com/RotarySTARS/.
Los Alamos Post 8874 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is a non-profit organization serving veterans and the local community. The mission of the VFW is to be an organization of war veterans committed to helping veterans, ensuring rights, remembering sacrifices, promoting patriotism, performing community services and advocating for a strong national defense. The VFW has been helping veterans and representing/advocating for veterans for nearly 120 years. To learn more about VFW Post 8874, visit http://vfw8874.org.