SK1 Richard Hogan, Jr. USCG Ret. OIF 2007 is a 2015 graduate of Ride On St. Louis's Equine Services for Heroes program funded through the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International and the Wounded Warriors Project. From Memorial Day through Independence Day Rich has graciously offered to send a signed copy of his book “Random Thoughts of Sleepless Nights” to all current and NEW members of our monthly giving club the Crusader Circle. The Crusader Circle was established in 2018 to celebrate Ride On St. Louis's 20th anniversary. Anyone can join the Crusader Circle with a monthly gift of $20, and know that they have an impact at Ride On St. Louis each month! If you're able to make a monthly gift, we hope you'll help us continue celebrating our milestone of helping others for 20+ years, by pledging a $20 monthly gift or more. A testimony shared by Rich follows, as well as an excerpt from his poem "The Mighty Zen."
I was an Iraqi veteran suffering from PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder], anxiety and depression. I had a bad lower back injury that prevented me from lifting items, standing and sitting for long periods of time. I was on several medications for my PTSD, anxiety, depression and back injury. Prior to my above mentioned injuries, I served 20 years in the U.S. Military where I was highly decorated and admired by peers and subordinates, alike. I played racquetball at least five times a week as well as softball. I enjoyed life and helping other people. As my injuries started to progress, I didn't want any contact with the outside world. I didn't like talking on the telephone or be in crowded places. My temper was inexcusable and I could fly off the handle at a moment’s notice. I was alienating my friends and family, and I was missing a lot of work.
I tried several different things to gain control of what was happening to me, but none of these things had worked. I was on a roller coaster ride for four years. I would have some good days, but they were mostly bad. Many nights I spent crying, not knowing what I needed to do to get out of this pain I was feeling. Furthermore, at this time in my life I was on 17 different medications. I thought the medicine was making me feel bad, so I stopped taking them. I soon realized that I needed them to just be able to function just around the house.
Late in 2012, I received an e-mail telling of great success with equine assisted therapy for combat veterans suffering from PTSD. The e-mail went on to tell me of an organization close to my house that was providing this service, and if I wanted to try it out, I could fill out an application; if selected, I attend the program free of charge. So I filled out the application and within a week I was put in contact with Ride On St Louis.
Ride On St. Louis started working with my injuries. Immediately they treated me as a person and not a patient. They cared about my injuries and Ride On St. Louis designed a program for me so I could successfully take full advantage of what they had to offer.
The results were immediate for me. I started not to miss work as much, my anger issues were going away and I always looked forward to my Thursday sessions. At the end of my ten weeks I was in a better place mentally, physically and spiritually.
[At the time this was written] I have been away from the Ride On St. Louis program for eight months now. Since the end of my therapy there, I have missed less than five days of work, I have been more active with my interests, I have attained pride in myself and I have grown professionally. I interact more in public, my mental health has improved and I have weaned myself off of my medications. In addition, I have gone from seeing my mental health professional on a weekly basis, to seeing him only twice a year (for a basic mental health check). The last visit I had, I was told that I was doing remarkable! This was all possible through Ride On St. Louis; [they] helped me to become a person again. Their training and professionalism is top notch. How they do what they do is truly a blessing from God. I have recommended this program to fellow Veterans who have had the same success. Ride On St. Louis is and forever an organization that I will hold near and dear to my heart.
Excerpt of "The Might Zen"
Zen Put me on his back
As to mimic the Injured Warrior being Carried by his Battle Buddy off the Battle Field after the Attack
From this Point Forward I call him the Mighty Zen
He too is a Warrior and my Friend