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New equine therapy program for veterans launching on Veterans Day in St. Johns County

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Rise Up for Veterans equine therapy program will be held on Veterans Day.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — This Veterans Day a local non-profit is launching a new program in St. Johns County to provide wounded veterans and veterans suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injury, sexual assault and hazing trauma with equine-assisted therapy.

The goal of the Rise Up for Veterans program is to enhance the quality of the life for veterans and their families by bringing horses and people together for therapy that heals the physical and emotional wounds of war. 

The therapy program will be offered at HorsePlay Therapy Center in St. Augustine.

“Currently, we have a children's program where we do physical, occupational and speech therapy for kids with disabilities," Vicky Carregal, President of HorsePlay Therapy Center, said. "We incorporate horses and the movement of the horse into their therapy treatment plans. So what we decided to start working on two years ago was implementing a veterans' program so that we could help our essentially it was to help our families that were military members suffering from PTSD. But now we're opening it up to the community.” 

Any veteran diagnosed with PTSD can come for their mental health counseling and use the horses also as a part of their treatment plan.

“The horse is able to help calm and settle the person that is interacting with them, and it's just, it's an interesting dynamic,” Carregal said. “We have seen it transition from someone who is hard, you know, and a little rigid and just struggling on the outside emotionally to being open and then being able to communicate with the horse better, which then translates to communicating in their own family better in those relationships.”

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Rise Up for Veterans program will take place on Veterans Day at HorsePlay Therapy Center from 11 to 12 pm. The public is invited. It’s located at 1925 State Road 207 in St. Augustine.

To learn more about the equine therapy program click here. The non-profit does have a scholarship program to help those who don't have insurance or can't afford the co-pays.