We owe our veterans a debt that can't be repaid.

As the daughter of a retired Lt. Colonel in the United State Air Force who served two tours in Vietnam, I often asked my father to tell me about his experience. My dad was generally very open with me, but he was mum with regard to his time in Vietnam. I've never been to war. I've never seen war up close, just depictions on TV or news coverage. I've never witnessed violence of that nature first hand and I don't want to. Many of our service members have and they do it voluntarily so that we don't have to.

That's exactly what Johnny 'Joey' Jones did. He enlisted in the Marines after high school in Dalton, Georgia. Joey served 8 years working as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician, much of that time in Iraq and Afghanistan while serving during three combat tours. That all came to end August 6, 2010, in Afghanistan when he stepped on an IED, losing both of his legs above the knee and damaging one forearm and both wrists. Sgt. Jones spent the next two painful years of his life fighting to recover at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington D.C.

Joey could have turned bitter. He had every right to, but he didn't. Instead, Sgt. Jones turned his tragedy into a way to serve his fellow wounded servicemen and women. He also pursued his Bachelor's Degree at Georgetown University. Despite everything, he was DETERMINED!

Since that time, Joey Jones has helped more people than he probably ever dreamed he would have when he enlisted in the Marines out of high school. His list of accomplishments isn't just noteworthy, it's downright extraordinary. Here are just of few of the achievements to his credit:

Joey's story is about adapting and overcoming adversity. Friends of mine who have seen Joey speak say he's not only dynamic but that you'll leave fired up and ready to take on the world!

If there's one thing he's intimately acquainted with, it's PTSD. Not only has he experienced it first hand, but he also lost his childhood best friend to PTSD-related suicide in 2012. Living in a military town, home to Barksdale Air Force Base, we have a large military population. Some of them are suffering from visible wounds... more are suffering from wounds you can't see and talk and drug therapy aren't always effective. That's where Warrior Horse comes in.

Warrior Horse is the dream of Kevin Russell of Frierson, LA and he's been working towards it's opening for five years along with the help of his family and a dedicated group of volunteers and board members. The purpose of Warrior Horse is to help our military veterans with PTSD through equine assisted activities. Here's how the Warrior Horse website describes their program:

Warrior Horse transforms the lives of military veterans, one horse at a time. The Warrior Horse program uses a personalized and interactive equine-assisted method, which we call the “Bonding Process” to assist military veterans who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to begin their recovery from this debilitating disorder. Our program is open to current and former members of the armed forces of the United States who have been diagnosed with PTSD and have had some “let down” period after a tour of active duty. The program is provided at no financial cost to the veterans.

Obviously, there's more to the program than a short paragraph and I invite you to read more on the Warrior Horse website, where there is a wealth of information. I also ask you to give to the program if you are able. Clearly, the program isn't cheap to run, but I personally feel that taking care of the men and women who have given so much in service to their country is a responsibility we all share. No matter how large or small, your donation is appreciated!

I also invite you to purchase tickets to the Warrior Horse Grand Opening/Fundraising Banquet at the Horseshoe Riverdome Friday, January 25, 2019, starting at 5 pm. Tickets are $100 and yes, donations and ticket purchases are tax deductible! The event will feature dinner, music by the Ryan Matthew band, a silent auction and Johnny 'Joey' Jones. I've also heard Neal McCoy might even make an appearance. Plus, I'll be there! I hope that doesn't scare you off!

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