HARVARD – A Harvard nonprofit has received a grant to help veterans.
Baxter International Foundation has granted $100,000 to BraveHearts, an equine assisted therapy organization with locations in Harvard and Poplar Grove, so the nonprofit can hire a mental health and peer-to-peer specialist to work with veterans and their families.
BraveHearts is the largest equine-based program in the U.S. for veterans. Clients can work with horses through riding, ground activities, carriage driving and gentling wild mustangs.
Services are provided to veterans and a caregiver or family member for free, according to BraveHearts’ website.
“We are continuously told by veterans that our program saved their life,” said Meggan Hill-McQueeney, BraveHearts’ president. “Without these mustangs and horses, they would have been a statistic.”
BraveHearts will begin accepting applications for the position in the next few months, and it will begin hiring sometime next year.
Benefits of working with animals include increased self-worth and self-esteem; increased trust and community integration; and decreased negative mental health symptoms, such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, according to BraveHearts.
“Baxter and Baxter International Foundation are committed to increasing access to care in communities where Baxter employees live and work,” said Baxter International Foundation President Stacey Eisen, who also is senior vice president of global communications. “By helping veterans access mental health services, we not only honor this commitment but also the dedication of those who have served our country.”