PLEASANT GARDEN, NC -- As the nation pauses on Veteran’s Day to thank the brave men and women who served in the military, a small rural farm in Pleasant Garden is doing a lot more to help America’s heroes.
Easter’s Promise Therapeutic Equine Center offers a chance for wounded veterans and their families to cope with the pain of PTSD and the stress of everyday life.
For Nathan Hardin, it’s a breath of fresh air every time he visits.
"Being in the infantry, everything was tough," said Hardin.
Hardin served in U.S. Army during the 1980’s and still misses the comradery of his fellow soldiers.
“You go 24/7 with somebody having your back all the time,” said Hardin. “Then you get out of the military and you feel lonely.”
But at Easter's Promise farm, he's found a new friend – a horse named “Joe.”
“Sometimes you need a friend that doesn't talk back, that's just there for you,” he said.
Mary Ann Yow converted her farm into an equine therapy program for veterans in 2012.
“I had seen a little program about it on TV and I just felt the Lord speak to me and say that's what you're going to do,” said Yow. “It was so powerful. The Lord spoke to me and said you are going to do therapy with your horses. You are going to share them with veterans.”
She says veterans learn to how to handle stress and begin to feel at peace with the horses.
“It's just so relaxing to have that animal just stand there and love you,” said Yow. “You know that's that one that's not going to tell your secrets. He's not going to laugh at you. He's not going to judge you.”
The program isn’t just about horses.
The farm also has pigs, cows and other animals along with walking trails, creeks, horseshoe pits, and other activities.
U.S. Marine Corps Veteran Stephen Douglas likes to take his daughter fishing at the pond.
He says spending quality time with his family helps to relax his mind.
“I can definitely find peace in standing on a fishing dock with my daughter,” said Douglas. “Who can't?”
Douglas' family works as volunteers on the farm, helping take care of the horses, and the veterans who struggle with PTSD.
“It's about giving back and helping people that have given so much to us,” said Douglas. “These men and women that volunteer to serve.”
Many veterans come home with emotional scars that no one can see.
But for Hardin, just the feeling of being "out on the farm" takes all the stress away.
“When you're all by yourself and you can sit and talk to an animal and the only thing it's going to do is love you back and it doesn't care or judge you, it's a special thing,” said Hardin.
Easter's Promise is open to veterans of all military branches and it's completely free.
For more information about the program, click here.