Story by A.J. Arias
“To end military suicides” – that is the mission statement of Trauma and Resiliency Resources (TRR), according to their Executive Director, Eva J. Usadi, who presented to a crowd at Raymond Fire House on Thurs., Apr. 26. Hoping to find a permanent home in the Hudson Valley or potentially right here in Warwick NY, TRR’s Warrior Camp has changed the lives of hundreds of veterans from all over the country.
Founded in 2004 but becoming an official organization four years ago, TRR holds programs across the country in hopes of helping veterans during their transition from the battlefield to the community, to support force preservation, heal moral injuries, and to prevent suicide. TRR’s last two programs occurred in Warwick at the Winslow Therapeutic Center.
With no permanent home, TRR is looking for a place, preferably a good sized farm with horses, for their equine-assisted psychotherapy program and to host their monthly Warrior Camp programs. TRR is additionally looking for donations to help them fund their program. Donations would go to lodging, feeding and transporting the horses, veterans and volunteers for the program.
One initiative to help raise funds is to have a competition in Warwick, similar to the one that the Sesquicentennial Committee had last year. The competition would involve businesses, either by having donation jars available or events that would raise money for TRR. The results of the competition would also be used as a template for similar competitions to be held across the country.
TRR’s warrior camp has been incredibly successful, according to their Executive Director. In its four years, they have helped hundreds of veterans and have never lost a single one to suicide. The program additionally has a 99 percent completion rate.
Usadi shared a moving testimonial at the event about the first warrior camp she held. She said she received a call from one of the veterans before the camp started and when she asked him what he hoped to get out of the program, he told her, “I just want to find some peace.”
Usadi said she immediately knew that if this program didn’t work she was going to lose him. When the veteran got to the camp on the first time day, Usadi said he seemed quiet and wasn’t the most approachable, but later on that day during a session of equine-assisted psychotherapy, the veteran’s life changed forever.
The veteran was approached by a horse and when they made eye contact he felt, in that moment, that, “The horse looked into my soul and told me everything was going to be okay.”
It was later revealed that the veteran had a bottle of Jack Daniels and gun waiting for him when he got home from the program, saying that he was only going to give it one more try.
Usadi said horses are very open and non-judgmental creatures, going on to say that “horses love you as you are.” Along with the equine-assisted therapy TRR offers yoga, a sweat lodge, narrative writing, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy.
The event additionally heard testimonials from Everett Cox, who spoke of his own struggles with mental health as a veteran and his attempts to find the appropriate help. Dan Burger, from the Warwick Valley Veterans of Foreign Wars, spoke of his connection to the program and gave the audience a daily itinerary of the program.
Finally, Village of Warwick Mayor Michael Newhard shared his own story of how he has seen the success of the program, as well as how the beauty of the Warwick Valley brings him comfort and can serve as its own source of therapy for the veterans.
For more information on TRR visit www.TRRHelp.org.