A 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Veteran Retreat for Equine Therapy
My Dad always taught me to keep a legal pad by the bed in case you had an idea in the middle of the night you could write it down. In October of 2017 that advice was put to good use. Somewhere in the middle of the night I woke up and scribbled the word ranch and went back to sleep. I could barely read my own chicken scratch the next morning not having any idea why the word ranch and what it meant. See Pam and I have always loved horses and wanted some of our own one day but we didn’t understand why this word and what did it mean at that point and time.
However within 2 weeks my wife Pam and I were out having lunch and the waitress had to ask why I kept asking for more napkins. It was because we had nothing else to write on and God had the ideas flowing like a waterfall. We ran this idea by my Dad who was in The United States Navy from 69-73 (69-70 in country) Vietnam Veteran, and he couldn’t have been more excited about the idea. See, my Dad came from the era that didn’t get ticker tape parades, welcome home parties, or everyone saying thank you for your service. When my Dad got back from Vietnam and was in the San Francisco International Airport in his uniform he was spit on and called a baby killer. This was my Dads welcome home after serving his country with honor and distinction. So when he saw that we came up with a way to help Veterans and their Families he was 150% on board. So by December of 2017 we formed our 501c3.
So why did we have the passion to start this you ask? Well, that is very simple. We have deep military ties in both of our Families. As I mentioned, my Father is a Vietnam Veteran and he sits on the founding board. his Brother was in the Navy as well and their Father was part of The Big Red 1 at the end of WWII.
Pam’s Father served in the Army right after WWII and she had two Uncles that were in WWII. One being at Pearl Harbor the day that it got hit. He passed away in 2010.
Our Parents instilled values in us to love and honor America, its elders, and its Veterans. They are people of pride and integrity that showed us all the love that we needed growing up and the tough love when necessary to make sure that we grew up strong and grew up right, and they are the biggest reason why we do what we do today.
When I graduated high school in 1991 it was right at the start of the Gulf War. I had friends go in various branches of service that were immediately sent over there as soon as they got out of boot camp. When they got out, they didn’t always know what they wanted to do. Some of them became civilian counterparts to what they did in the service like becoming a police officer or EMT. Others had to try and figure out “what next”
We have seen the hard adjustments that the young men and women of the military face when they get out of the service. They are put through a brief transition period to adjust back to normal.
This is where we like to pick Veterans and their Family up. We take Veterans and immediately work on assessing what their needs are so we can match them up with the right horse, the right counselors, and get them going through the program.
This also applies to children who have lost loved ones in the line of duty. This pertains to kids of all First Responders as well, and to children who have just gone through a traumatic experience and need our help.
Members of the military will be the first to tell you that they do not own the term PTS. You notice that we did not put the “D” at the end. It is not a disorder. This is a label that the government put on it. This is something that someone has walked through and now they have to learn how to take off that heavy coat or burden, lay it down where they stand and never pick it up again, and walk off as a new and improved version of themselves.
Once they get with their horse, the first thing that we are going to do is show them how to start building trust with that horse through simple grooming and caring for that horse.
Here is a perfect example of how one of our programs works. At one of our Veteran horse clinics we paired up an active duty Airman with the most gentle 18 hand high horse (6 feet from hoof to the top of the shoulder or withers as they are known) and this gentleman was maybe 5’5″ with boots on. You could feel the tension just pouring off of him and the horse was agitated because of this. His wife came over to us and said J.R. you got to help my husband he is freaking out. So I and a retired Marine went over and talked to him. We found out that he was from the Bronx and he had never even seen a horse much less be on one of this size.
We finally got him on the horse but then he was over squeezing his legs and pulling on the reigns because he thought that he was going to fall off. We showed him how to breath, and relax and once he did the horse started immediately responding to him more favorably. We took him around and showed him how to guide the horse more with his feet than with his hands and once he was comfortable we took him out on a trail ride. By the time we came back he had an ear to ear grin on his face that was priceless. We asked how he was doing, and he said, “well, I’m walking a little funny but I want to get something to drink and can I please go out on the next ride?” Ladies and gentleman, we and the horse did its job that day. We helped someone over come a fear that he didn’t even know that he had. He left there that day standing just a bit taller, prouder, and more confident in himself. His wife who had been riding horses for over 20 years could not have been more proud of him and so were we. This is just one example of the power of these animals, and if you are willing to let go of some things how we can help you get on to that new and improved version of yourself.
You have to remember that this is God’s majestic animal. This animal can feel a gnat land on its back. Therefore, it knows everything about you and everything that you are feeling before you are two feet away from it.
My wife and I did not have the honor of serving, but our parents did. We thank God that they are still with us on this earth today, and that they instilled the values in us that they did so we can apply them to helping people today.
We do not charge Veterans or their immediate household for our services. The fact that they signed on the dotted line to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic is all the payment that we need. The family serves just as much as the one wearing the uniform.
Most people have no idea what military families sacrifice to keep this great country of ours free. Long periods of time away from their loved ones, having to move every time the service says so with no questions asked, worrying where your loved one may be around the world because they can’t tell you anything about it, nor can they talk about it when they get home. The family serves in a different unit that is sometimes harder than the ones in the uniform.
Our mission and goal is to help as many Veterans and Families as we can with our programs, to become better Sons, Daughters, Husbands, Wives, Brothers, and Sisters.
The Veterans Ranch really looks forward to serving you. We can not wait for you to reach out to us regarding our services. We have special events going on all the time. So, make sure to keep an eye on our events page. PJJR Ranch Corp was started in 2017 with the mission to help veterans and children. We believe that this is apple pie and baseball. It is America. Make sure to sign up for our emails so you can always stay on top of what we have going on. Also, make sure to hit that donate today button so you can make your pledge and help up continue to do what we do every single day.
The first picture that you see is of Mike Smith Sr. from his boot camp graduation. Mike is a member of the board of PJJR Ranch Corp. The second picture is of Pamela Jo (PJ) our President, and J.R. our Vice President out on a trail ride for the day. The last picture is of the most important group of people and that is our young children. As you can see, these children are holding up pictures of their parents that they lost in the line of duty.
We work hard every day to help take care of children who have lost loved ones in the line of duty and the rest of their family that got left behind. It is not only the person in uniform that serves. The entire family serves. They are in the family brigade. They do not wear a uniform but they serve just the same.
Through God’s majestic animal the horse we are able to work with these awesome groups of people and help them to achieve a better sense of well being, happiness, spirituality, and a great sense of self.