May 11, 2010

Letter From Neal Riley

Welcome to! As a U.S. Army Special Forces Medic who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, I understand the enormous struggles confronting our combat veterans as they return home after service overseas. Many veterans return to civilian life with physical and psychological wounds. On the battlefield I treated the physical wounds of combat. But healing the psychological wounds from combat trauma can be a life-long process.

That’s why I’ve teamed up with Santa Fe rancher, retired U.S. Marshal, and Special Forces veteran, Rick Iannucci, to raise funds for our non-profit organization, “Horses For Heroes-New Mexico, Inc. Cowboy Up!”. Rick and our crew of volunteers are working to assist in healing our OIF OEF veterans experiencing combat trauma. As the program medic I have seen Rick and our dedicated volunteer staff work with veterans and I believe in the healing power of our program. As Rick explains, “The cowboy culture is parallel to the warrior culture.” Rick points out that horses have the ability to sense our deepest feelings and they reflect that back to us. In a way, horses can help direct people back onto a path of peace and balance.

As a non-profit “Horses For Heroes –New Mexico, Inc. Cowboy Up!” relies entirely on donations to meet its operational expenses. To raise funds and awareness for this non-profit, I will compete in an ultra-marathon and ask sponsors to donate much-needed funds to help support this effort to heal our veterans. The run that I have chosen is a 30-mile race on an ancient Hopi trail through the heart of Hopi country in Polacca, AZ. The “Paatuwaqatsi Run” or “Water is Life Run”, leads runners up switchbacks of high desert mesas, down into arroyos, and through the Hopi village of Walpi. Accomplished Hopi runner, Bucky Preston, founded the race. Preston explains: “Putting Hopi life values and teaching at the forefront is the purpose of the run.” The Hopi regard running as a practical necessity as well as a rejuvenating and spiritual experience. As a staff member of “Horses For Heroes-New Mexico, Inc. Cowboy Up!”, I hope to learn from the ancient Hopi perspective on running and pass along what I learn.

“Horses for Heroes-New Mexico, Inc. Cowboy Up!” also recognizes the enormous sacrifice and contribution made by Native Americans: from the Navajo Code Talkers of World War II to the soldiers serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. And the largest percentage of Native American soldiers serving today come from the state of New Mexico.

We welcome you to become a part of the “Horses For Heroes- New Mexico, Inc. Cowboy Up!” effort to help our veterans who have risked everything for our country. To donate by credit card, click on the donate button. Donations can also be sent by check to: “Horses For Heroes-New Mexico, Inc, Cowboy Up!” PO Box 1882, Santa Fe, NM 87504.

“Horses For Heroes-New Mexico, Inc. Cowboy Up!” is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization. 100% of all donations go directly to support New Mexico veterans. More information can be found on the web at: