My name is Norbie. In 2004, my vehicle was struck by a rocket propelled grenade in Baqubah, Iraq. During the attack, I lost my arm, sustained a brain injury, lung damage and a liver laceration. The extent of my injuries was so severe that I had to be placed in a medically induced coma for two months. I would have to relearn to walk again, talk again and learn to do things with one arm, that most people take for granted. It was a life changing experience to say the least. The physical recovery is something that I have seemed to master. I can pretty much do anything that anyone else can do with my one arm. I golf, play softball, volleyball and am learning to skydive independently amongst many other things.
What I still struggle with to this day, is Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS). It is estimated that there are over 400,000 men and women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, struggling with PTS. I am one of those individuals. Because I know what it’s like to struggle with PTS, I helped found a charity called A Combat Veteran’s Hope. We provide many opportunities for engagement and education for Combat Veterans and their families. Our mission is to empower Combat Veterans through engagement with each other and their local community. We provide as many venues as possible in which interaction is encouraged and engagement is fostered. We want our war fighters to understand that PTS simply defined, is a very normal reaction to an abnormal situation.
With the right support, those who have PTS can live a pretty normal life. There are resources nationwide and here in our community that can assist them and their family. Of course, we had to enlist the aid of our community here in the valley but also wanted to find organizations that were willing to help our veterans through unique programs. Thankfully, we came across Happy Trails.
Because of past experiences with well-intentioned organizations, our leadership team doesn’t like to send those we serve through any type of programs unless our leadership goes to it first. Even though I was very afraid of horses, I volunteered. I was introduced to Ridge and after about the second or third class, began to see why Happy Trails does what it does. Every week I looked forward to spending time with Ridge doing the groundwork and just focusing on him.
Ridge is quite the character, and I have formed a unique bond with him. I think one of my favorite things to do is spend time with him in the round pen, just he and I. With Program Director Lisa’s guidance, I have not only overcome my fear of horses, but even did what I said I would never do again, ride a horse. We are so thankful that Happy Trails is here to help our Combat Veterans. In a few weeks, I’ll have completed the session. Something tells me I’ll be coming back.