Veterans Ranch and Soul Injury Program



“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” – Winston S. Churchill

The Injury

Because we fail to the highest level of our training, there is training for all scenario analysis before entering the field of engagement the solder is prepaid to do as trained. That is how it must be, they have orders, they have a job to do. The engagement is real, the stakes are at their highest there is no margin for error, and there is only one thing they can think of, that which they are trained in. In engagement, in battle there was no time for sorrow, there was no time for forgiveness. The solders will be stoic, they will be indifferent to the images that is around them, to the losses, to the inner conflict. They cannot greave their loses, the loses of those close to them, there is no time, they only have the bandwidth to do as they are trained. However, those images, those losses, the personal conflict remain to fester under the surface. They will never be the same.

“You cannot now realize that you will ever feel better… And yet it is a mistake. You are sure to be happy again.” Abraham Lincoln

The Healing

Their deployments will end, they return to their families. Now those scenes of engagement return. Before engagement with the target they were not trained on how to grieve, to forgive, to be forgiven. After deployment is when that training must start; after deployment healing begins on the injuries that cannot be seen. When we hurt we all hurt those we love, that just the way it is. When a combat veteran comes home injured his family is also injured. It is just the way it is. The family is in the circle of pain but out of the circle of real communication because they were not they, they don’t want to go there.

What We Provide

Northwestern Outdoor Leadership Institute provides the vets is first something real and relevant to do working on the ranch training the horses and working on the farm/ranch and being in nature. There is a positive reason to get up each morning, to continue training their colt. The vets have other vets to work with that have been on that same journey and are now training them not just in training their colt but learning how to heal, to grieve the losses, to forgive, and to be forgiven. They will learn not only to train horses, and train others to train horses, they may also learn train others with healing Soul Injury.
The vets’ families may be included in residency on the farm and in both our k-12 and post-secondary schools. They may also heal and through their healing will also learn to heal others.

Opus Peace and Soul Injury

The founders and staff of Northwestern Outdoor Leadership Institute have teamed with Opus Peace for training and support in our work with vets and others in going beyond PTSD to heal the Soul Injury of un-mourned loss and un-forgiven guilt. Opus Peace is in the forefront of this work. Read More

"No one taught me how to fail. No one showed me how to lose, and because I never learned these things, I felt alone when they occurred.."
—Deborah Grassman
"Animals are such agreeable friends―they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms."
—George Eliot