Veteran's Ranch

1 Peter 4:10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

A Mission of Trust

A Mission of Trust: Lakeland Nonprofit Offers Equine Therapy to Help Veterans

by JR Smith | Sep 8, 2022 | Equine Therapy, PTSD and 22 Suicides a Day, Thank You to Our Sponsors, The Veterans Ranch Locations across the Nation | 0 comments

The Veterans Ranch was interviewed by Central Florida Ag News

A Veterans Ranch YouTube episode from August tells you everything you need to know about the nonprofit.

On the video, there’s a man with glasses and a goatee, black hat and black shirt, and he’s talking about how this episode is different; saying they need donations for an immediate need.

“We’ve got some needs that we’ve got to meet for a veteran in the local community,” says the host, J.R. Smith, founder and vice president of The Veterans Ranch, a nonprofit organization that uses equine therapy to help veterans and put an end to veteran’s suicide.

The clip is an apt introduction to the Lakeland nonprofit in two ways. First, Smith speaks in a tone and style that is at once friendly, passionate, and direct, reflecting the organization’s personality. 

Second, he’s trying to raise money for someone in immediate need, meaning the organization is flexible enough to try different things to reach its mission.

“We didn’t make the goal through the video, but I thought we should give it a try and see what happens,” says Smith. “We were able to raise the money in another way and help in that situation, though.”

A direct, well-stated goal and the flexibility to try to reach it through different channels has been a hallmark of The Veterans Ranch since it started in October 2017. 

The idea for The Veterans Ranch came scribbled on a bedside note — a barely legible “ranch” on the page — written at 3 a.m. Smith, along with his wife, Pam, had been looking for a way to help veterans.

“My dad was a Vietnam vet, my uncle was in the Navy, and my grandfather was in World War II,” says Smith. “We had been looking at ways to help, but there are a million dog programs — and they are doing great work — and we didn’t want to become part of the white noise.”

Smith did a lot of reflecting and praying on the word “ranch,” but just couldn’t find a way to fill in the blanks. Then came a lunch at Chili’s.

“We sat down and the light bulb turned on,” says Smith. “I spent the whole lunch writing on napkins. Thirty napkins later, I had it all down, and, by December 2017, we were a nonprofit.”

The mission of The Veterans Ranch is to assist veterans and families through Equine Therapy, which involves equine therapy that promotes human physical and mental health.