My name is Nick Simeone, I served in the US Army and National Guard from 1999-2010. I primarily served in combat arms during my time serving the nation. During my final year with the military I deployed to Iraq. I served as a protective security detail team leader.
I met Steven Baldwin in 2002. We became good friends after Infantry school. Steven continued his service with the military after I left the military. We served in different capacities and during my deployment Steven was finishing his Masters program. His goal, since his own deployment in 2004, has always been to help veterans. The Front Range Ranch and Rescue is his way of serving the veteran community.
While serving in the military and as a disabled veteran I can personally attest to the quality of care we receive. A lot of people speak negatively about this care, however, I have nothing but positive things to say about it. However, the one thing I think the Veteran Affairs could do differently is try different approaches to therapy. Some people may react exceptionally to traditional group therapy, and some individuals may not. I have always thought group therapy and individual therapy sessions were a waste of time, and I have declined all care after my first session. Steven offered to provide me with an experience with the EAGALA model. Personally, I hate horses. I was bit by one when I was five years old, my experiences with horses have all been negative. I have an aunt who is crippled due to a horse kicking her. I have another aunt who was bucked off a horse and lost use of her wrist.
I try to be open minded and took Steven up on his offer and had the pleasure of meeting one of the horses at Front Range Ranch and Rescue named Glory. Glory is an amazing horse. She is different than the other horses at the ranch. In my opinion, Glory is the black sheep of the ranch and in a way, I relate to that. I began to appreciate this horse because the horse at first didn't want anything to do with me, and that was fine by me, because truthfully I didn't want much to do with that horse either. However we (Glory and I) connected. I listened to the steps Steven provided, and was able to put the lead on the horse. I was able to pet the horse, and as odd as it may sound it was as if the horse and I without words were able to get past our discomfort and appreciate one another. Time stood still that day. The experience is difficult to put into words but it was a huge relief, it was fun, and it was helpful.
As often as friends do, we question one another motives. We challenge ideas that we ourselves do not understand. I personally thought the entire EAGALA model was a quack remedy. However, I was so convinced after my experience with Glory and what it is Steven is trying to do with fellow veterans that I also requested to be part of his organization in any capacity I could serve.
I do think the EAGALA model is helpful, I do think it is an excellent alternative to traditional therapy. I know it helps veterans. It helped me, and I was only out there for one afternoon.