Veterans, volunteers express gratitude for Healing Strides

The non-profit in Boones Mill promotes healing through horses

BOONES MILL, Va. – A thank you note written by a veteran warmed the hearts of those at Healing Strides.

“I’m very grateful for the counseling this organization has provided,” read CEO Carol Young. “I look forward to my sessions with anticipation that I usually don’t associate with therapy.”

Those sentiments of gratitude are echoed by volunteers, including John Igoe, who joined the Navy and served in Vietnam.

“God looks upon this place, and he helps us all. I want to give back, so that’s why I’m here. I love the horses, I love to work with the horses,” Igoe said.

The horses, the camaraderie, and the sense of service are just some of the reasons these local heroes love what they do, like Charlton English, who served in the United States Air Force.

“I’ve been the recipient of so much kindness and joy and every day I come here and see everybody. I love everybody here and I can’t wait to get hugs and I can’t wait to see the horses,” said English, who also volunteers at Healing Strides.

Accepting, calming and kind: the traits that make the horses majestic are why veterans keep coming back.

“Working around these animals has a way of connecting me with nature and allowing me to ignore my internal demons. I thank you very much for providing me with this adventure. Sincerely, Robert,” Young read.

The letter expressed the feelings that Healing Strides is a safe haven for those who’ve served.

About the Author:

Alyssa Rae grew up in Roanoke and graduated from Virginia Tech. An avid sports fan, she spent her first 8 years in TV as a sports anchor and reporter.