Aug 8, 2010

I'm Back In The Saddle

Horses For Heroes - New Mexico, Inc. ~ Cowboy Up!

While serving in Iraq, as a Machine Gunner with 2nd Battalion 1st Marines, I was severely wounded by an enemy sniper, when a bullet struck me in the head. I am very blessed to be alive and continue leading the life I am so fortunate to have. Returning home after combat has not been an easy task. As all combat veterans know. I am diagnosed with severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (Combat Trauma) and Traumatic Brain Injury. It seems as if I have been fighting a whole other battle in my head since returning home in 2005.

While attending a treatment program at the V.A. I met another combat veteran who asked me if I wanted to go ride horses at a ranch in Santa Fe the following weekend. He told me about this program called "Horses For Heroes - New Mexico Cowboy Up!" and that he had been, and really enjoyed it. I could not believe there was a program for us that would offer such an opportunity. Of course I agreed and we headed from the VA to Santa Fe the next Saturday.

Upon arriving we were greeted as if we were family. Returning home for the first time! Everyone sure made me feel welcomed. We started right away, being introduced to the horses and learning everything step by step. Before I knew it I was in the saddle! Talk about therapy, I was hooked! I was told that there is nothing better for the inside of a person than the outside of a horse, that is the truth. It is just you, the horse, and the instructor - Peace -. My experience that day truly opened my eyes. There really are people out there that do care and want to help.

I have been working with them every chance I get, learning more and more every time. The Horses For Heroes - New Mexico Cowboy Up! "Family" is a wonderful program and I would encourage all of the warriors returning home to come enjoy the same experience I have.

~Sterling Bucholz U.S.M.C./Ret.

Note about the photo above: If you look at the Night Vision Device mounting plate in the center of his helmet you will see the impact of the 7.62 sniper round, one of two that he was hit with creasing his head leaving him with titanium plates and earning him a Purple Heart and the Navy Marine Corps Commendation Medal for Bravery Under Fire for Continuing to Man His Machine Gun and Protecting His Unit.