BUCHANAN, Va. - As millions observe Veterans Day throughout the country, the directors of a Buchanan farm are continuing to help servicemen and women heal through horses.
Navy veteran Lois Fritz, the founder of New Freedom Farm, now has 18 horses and has watched more than 2,000 veterans visit in the first two years.
10 News visited the farm Monday to see how it’s grown.
Fritz is helping dozens of veterans recover. She described her own recovery process Monday and how she overcame feelings of despair and suicidal thoughts.
“Knowing that you can feel better by being around an animal, getting up, moving around, and being around people that have the same pain that you have, (it) is just huge to know that you're not alone,” she said.
About a dozen veterans a week come by the farm.
In April, more than 800 people came to a fundraiser, and 10 News watched as a man came by Monday with a $1,000 check.
“The support from the community is absolutely amazing and the support from across our country is amazing,” Fritz said.
Along with Army veteran Jason Hogancamp, she’s helping veterans as they groom, walk, ride and talk with the animals. They say veterans dealing with issues from post-traumatic stress like those related to anxiety, lack of trust or low confidence can find peace, soften and open up.
“I am not defined by the diagnosis that I have. I'm defined by the man that I am,” said Hogancamp, the farm’s co-director.
Someone first showed him the power of horses 10 years ago. He was undergoing treatment after his second suicide attempt.
“I was hurting man, really. I was hurting, and I couldn't explain it to anybody, and that guy knew exactly what I was talking about,” he said.
Now, he helps people with the same pain.
“We come back home and somehow we lose that importance. We lose that our perspective on where we are in the world,” he said.
The farm is hosting a Thanksgiving dinner Nov. 22 at 2 p.m. Fritz said it’s free and open to anyone who would like to come because no one should be alone for the holidays. More than 100 people have already registered. They will turn the barn into a dining hall.
To register for the dinner, call the farm at 540-855-1158.
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