Catholic Charities Veteran Services helps veterans and their families who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness find stable housing and provides ongoing case management that includes financial planning, assistance applying for VA benefits, emergency assistance and more.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Veteran and Her Horse Get Three Miracles

Suzy, a veteran living in Prescott, Ariz. asked for one miracle—but she received three instead.

Eleven years ago, Suzy saved a 4-month-old Palomino filly named Grace and since that time, she has bonded with Grace as a therapeutic animal. 

After running morning errands, Suzy came home to find Grace down in her stall in pain. Suzy called the Prescott Animal Hospital and Equine Center for an emergency visit and remembers saying out loud after the call: “I need a miracle.” 

Miracle #1

Grace needed to be taken to the clinic for emergency surgery on her abdomen, but Suzy didn’t have a trailer. As a veteran, Suzy had a hard time asking for help—but after calling people who were a part of the horse community, Suzy found a trailer. 

Suzy had hope—but after Grace was at the veterinary hospital overnight, Suzy received a call from Dr. Nolte with bad news. He told Suzy to come and say her goodbyes due to Grace not doing well. 

Suzy ended the call from Dr. Nolte in shock and tears. She could not bring herself to go to the hospital, so she called on friends for support and prayers. One of the calls Suzy made was to her Catholic Charities case manager, Greg Hartz from the supportive services for veterans families (SSVF) program in Prescott, Ariz.  Greg had been working with Suzy and her housing needs. 

Miracle #2 

Greg knew that Suzy’s animals were documented service animals toward the recovery and healing of Suzy’s post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and military sexual trauma (MST) relating from her military service more than 42 years ago in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam era. 

“Wait, don’t do anything yet. Hit the pause button!”  Greg told her.

He gathered his colleagues and asked, “How can we help this veteran who I have personally worked with for several months and has served her country?”

Suzy had worked hard to uncover the underpinnings of her PTSD and MST had answers to many years of lost employment, housing evictions, relocating from city to city, isolation, anger, lack of interpersonal communication and relationships. Her animals, especially Grace, helped her to navigate her emotions and provided a calming effect in the face of stresses.  

Greg found funding from a grant that is allocated for veterans and the care of their service animals. He let Suzy know that Grace’s hospital bills would be paid in full by the PETCO grant, so she could continue treatment. 

Miracle #3 

After a few hours, Suzy called the equine center for another update. Grace was getting better and responding to treatment. Dr. Nolte replied as to her condition, “She is not out of the woods yet, but she seems to be improving.”   

After much treatment, Grace improved by 100 percent and her medical bills are paid. Now, Grace is happy and healthy and living at home. Suzy continues to work with Greg in finding support for herself as she builds her life in a healthy way.

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