LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – As COVID brings to light the importance of open discussion about mental health and the need for more available resources, BraveHearts — the largest program using equine-assisted activities and therapies in the nation for veterans — will embark on its fourth annual “Trail to Zero” ride in Kentucky and Illinois.
September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and veterans will ride 20 mile on horseback through Kentucky on September 25 and Illinois on October 11 to commemorate the number of veterans lives lost — 20 veterans and active service members are lost to suicide daily — and shine a light on the ways mental health can be improved through equine-assisted services.
The Kentucky ride will take place at the Kentucky Horse Park and Spy Coast Farm. The Illinois ride will take place privately in Bull Valley, Illinois and will be broadcast as a virtual hour-long program with live and recorded elements.
“Now, more than ever before, mental health is being recognized as a critical component of our wellbeing,” said Bravehearts President and COO Meggan Hill-McQueeney. “Many men and women who have served our country are struggling. BraveHearts is here to offer a solution through equine assisted services for all those who have had trouble finding relief.”
BraveHearts is the largest Professional Association for Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) accredited program in the country that has served thousands of veterans all at no cost, offering equine services to provide emotional, cognitive, social and physical benefits for veterans.
Veterans at BraveHearts report benefits including increased self-esteem, self-worth, trust for others and decreased depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms and suicidal ideations.
“While our rides might look a little different this year, we’ll continue to ride 20 miles for the 20 veterans and active service members we lose to suicide every day until this number is zero,” added Hill-McQueeney.
Kentucky’s Trail to Zero will take place during National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month on September 25. The Illinois’ Trail to Zero will take place as a virtual event on October 11.
Join the call to action by becoming a “Trail to Zero Hero”: complete 20 miles walking, running, biking or even 20 jumping jacks or 20 loads of laundry. Post a photo on social media and tag #TrailtoZEROHero to raise awareness for military suicide prevention.
Visit https://pages.donately.com/bravehearts/campaign/trailtozerohero to get involved. To learn more, visit www.trailtozero.org.