NEW YORK, N.Y. — According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, each day, on average, 20 veterans take their own lives. To shed light on the growing epidemic of veteran suicide, BraveHearts — the leading equine rehabilitation program for veterans in the nation — will embark on its third annual “Trail to Zero” ride in New York, Washington D.C. and Chicago. The 20-mile ride in each city commemorates the number of veterans lives lost, while cultivating a conversation around the mental health crisis plaguing those who have served the country and educating those in need about the benefits and healing effects of equine-assisted services. 

“‘Trail to Zero’ was developed after countless conversations with veterans about the intensifying suicide pandemic tragically affecting so many,” said Meggan Hill-McQueeney, President/COO, BraveHearts. “To hear that these men and women who have already sacrificed so much, are taking their own lives is simply heartbreaking. We need to raise awareness and find solutions to help protect those who put their lives on the line for our nation.”

BraveHearts is the largest Professional Association for Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) program in the country serving veterans all at no cost, offering equine services to provide emotional, cognitive, social and physical benefits for veterans. Veterans at BraveHearts have reported benefits including increased self-esteem, self-worth, trust for others and community integration and decreased depression, anxiety, post traumatic disorder symptoms and self-inflicting thoughts.

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“Innovative, alternative, non-traditional therapies should not be the last stop, or hope, for veterans,” added Hill-McQueeney. “Horses are good for the soul, for the mind and for the future of the veteran. If we can curtail how many vets are having suicidal ideologies, then we’ve done our job. However, we won’t rest until that number is zero.”

“Trail to Zero” is supported by the NYPD Mounted Unit, US Park Police Mounted Horse Unit and the Chicago Mounted Unit. Rides will take place in September, which is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, in Washington, D.C. (Sept. 7); New York City (Sept. 14); and Chicago (Sept. 28).

To learn more, visit www.trailtozero.org.

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