Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) veteran's wife
My husband is a US Army Afghanistan war veteran who struggles every day to live a semi-normal life due to PTSD. He served 10 years and was deployed 3 times to combat zones during his career and the horrors he experienced during those deployments still haunt him every day…[Gail] has been helping him and our family deal with the PTSD since November of 2013. In the 6 months that she has been in our lives I'm starting to see bits & pieces of the man I knew prior to his Army career. Though I know he will never be the way he was before the Army, she has helped him to adjust and deal with the PTSD. She has done more for him in 6 short months than the VA has done in 5 years.
Sincerely-An eternally grateful Army wife
Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) retired Army Staff Sergeant and Purple Heart recipient
I discovered the ranch last summer while I was looking for somewhere to fulfill service learning hours for a class I was taking at Florida Gulf Coast University. The ranch seemed like a good enough opportunity given my condition, though I didn’t have much intention of sticking around past the required time. I quickly changed my mind after spending one afternoon with Keith and listening to him describe what the ranch was attempting to do to help veterans in the area.
Over the next week, Keith and I spent the afternoons building a paddock for the horses when they arrived. This was the first time in a long time that I could see that something I was doing had a purpose. As you can imagine, living with PTSD brings many struggles. One of my biggest struggles has been my lack of self-worth. I was in my zone when I was enlisted in the Army. I rose through the ranks quickly as I was promoted from Private to Staff Sergeant in just four years. I had responsibilities and men that looked to me for guidance. A year after I was wounded, all of that was taken away. I was no longer allowed to serve due to my diagnosis and was given a retirement by the Army. It isn’t much of a retirement considering it is about the same amount as an unemployment check. I no longer felt like the leader that I was and instead felt like a burden. The ranch has afforded me the opportunity to volunteer while I receive treatment. This has helped me to restore the confidence and self-worth that I once had.
[My meeting with Gail] was the first time that I talked to a mental health professional without being told that our time was up. I was used to getting care at the VA where I only get to see someone once every ten weeks if I’m lucky and only for an hour. Gail showed a true interest in helping me live a better life than I was at the time. She has been committed to being available if I want to talk to her and I can honestly say that I have personally seen more improvement in the past nine months at the ranch than I have the past five years with the VA.
Marine Corps Vietnam War Veteran
For a good many years I had been searching for a safe place. As a Vietnam Veteran, not many things seemed to keep me calm. Was always on edge, had to make sure no one was to close,and loud noises set me off!
So as a 67 year old Marine with more than my share of bad days than good,and some tuff nights. I was introduced to Gail Doxie and the Smiles of Miles Foundation. The help this has given me can not be measured, it's more the feeling you get. Knowing this beautiful strong horse needs your help with every part of his day.
He puts his trust in you to take care of his needs. Gaining this trust has helped me feel better about my self and the things I do each day.
This is the first time I have tried to explain how this Equine Therapy has helped with my PTSD. Miles Ranch has given me that safe place,and a sense of responsibility for the care of these beautiful horses. In return, both horses Marshall and Zip have given me that feeling of a close bond of trust. As I said before it can not be measure
it's just that feeling I get when I get to handle them.
Below are excepts of a few letters from veterans and their families the Miles of Smiles Foundation has received