Tucked away in the pines of Black Forest lies a local therapy program. Jennifer Wolf, founder of Destinacion's Therapy & Maybell's Mission said that, "Destinacion's is founded on the loss of my husband [SSG. Robert T. Wolf] … He was 19 years army. He was infantry. He did 3 tours in Iraq and in his last one, became injured and was not able to survive what happened to him over there."
This is an organization founded on heartache, that helps the hearts of others heal through horses. “… I made a determination after seeing him struggle post-war that I was going to do something about it and be apart of the solution.” said Wolf.
Destinacion's Therapy & Maybell's Mission first opened in January of 2019. All programs are free of charge to active-duty soldiers, veterans and their families struggling with PTSD and trauma integration. No questions are asked about military history, so both honorably and dishonorably discharged veterans will be welcome in the program.
"Out here we have one hour sessions. Its kind of the normal thing." explained Wolf, "We spend about 15 to 20 minutes looking at where we need to focus that client and what they are experiencing and kind of bring it all up…Once we've done that, it helps me to guide what we need to do out there with the horse… The horse is a far better therapist than any of us can be.”
Not only does this non-profit serve as a safe haven for the military, but it is also a rescue for horses. A combination that wolf says go hand in hand. "Every horse on my property, we have 10 of them, and they all have a story they can tell. They are all a result of something tragic, they can all tell us something. And when one of our veterans comes out, they have a story to tell also and it's very powerful to see these two, almost exchange stories and the horse can say "Hey" you know, "Look at this. We can overcome this. I did it. You can do it."
Wolf rarely assigns a horse to her clients, but rather, lets the horses and clients interact and pair off themselves. She said, "….In no time it never fails that they bond with somebody and it just clicks. "
Carrie, an Army Veteran and program participant bonded with Destinacion, the namesake of the organization. He's better known around the barn as “Red” and has been helping Carrie overcome her struggles for the last 4 months. We asked Carrie her state of mind when she first found the program, and she explained, "a lot of stress, anxiety, you know, panic attacks, things like that." Though Red may be a horse of few words, he has spoken to her in big ways. Carrie shared that Red taught her, "Kind of how to regulate and calm and find that place and that spot. To start to rethink things so it's not always taking the same trigger and going the same way."
Though Carrie has only been in the program for a short time, she has already felt success. "I talked myself right out of doing things that I didn't think so." she shared, "Sometimes I would go through with it but the anxiety would come out and keep me from…. I should say being my own worst enemy. And now I'm not. I'm able to rethink things and think it out before. And how to say no and stand up and say, this is my limit right here."
As for Wolf, she says it's breathtaking to witness the healing her program offers the heroes of our community. "I sometimes am brought to tears by it because I think it's so easy to say, 'thank you for your service' and move on and sometimes I think it's just way beyond saying 'thank you.' It's us going out there and making a difference. You know, 22 suicides a day is absolutely unacceptable and so it tells me, you know, keep going when times are tough. You know, keep going, keep working, you're making a difference and that’s important. And the community and how they rally around things like this is wonderful to see. So I when I leave this earth, there is some kind of an impact I feel like I've left behind. At least that’s my hope."
To contact or learn more about Destinacion's Therapy and Maybell's Mission, you can visit their website.