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Sheepherding Program Helps Vets Overcome Post Traumatic Stress

11-10-2017

VINCENT, Calif. — Every day we hear that a growing number of our military veterans return home still fighting a battle within. 

These brave men and women suffer Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, ranging from flashbacks to insomnia to guilt and depression. Those who don't get help can end up homeless, addicted or worse.

In the mountains of California, Drummond Ranch located in Vincent, seeks to treat those feelings in a pretty unconventional way, through dogs and sheep.

In an interview with CBN News, Jana Duncan explained, "So many veterans come back and they just don't have the focus." 

She started a program called "Canines2Confidence" to help vets regain their focus with dogs training to herd sheep.

"Not only are they going to get the benefit of getting close to their dogs and bonding, but this is also a focus," said Duncan.

Through this unique program former soldiers are able to turn their memories of war into focused activity which enables them to rediscover a sense of peace.

As an instructor, veteran Chris Gant doesn't like the stigma attached to the PTSD label.

He said, "I teach to let go, don't think about anything that has kept you down in the past and to only focus on you and your best friend at your side, which is the dog."

Carlos Valle once conducted combat operations in Afghanistan. "Just like any life experience, it changes you," he said.

Working with the dogs has helped him develop patience and concentration.

He commented, "Being able to watch our dogs come out here, and just work, being able to follow commands and basically it's a team effort so you kind of have to sync your minds."

"The dog will feed off your energy. You'll feed off his energy and you'll both just kind of tackle the project together," he added.

There is also a serenity at the ranch that helps to ease the stress many veterans face.

Valle described his experience at the Drummond saying, "The peacefulness, not hearing traffic, fire sirens, helicopters every day, it's nice and peaceful and I love it because, my dog, we can come out here and hey let's go hike a mountain or something."

More than 50 veterans have completed the program and Duncan hopes to help many more find healing.

She said, "I think that this can be a real game changer for the vets coming back in after their tours of duty and they're ready to get back into society."

"The healing element has just been amazing," said Duncan.

Gant calls the program life-changing. "It's been tremendous for me," he said. "I've been able to blossom like a flower in a sense and come out of a shell and really continue to expose myself and be around society instead of shunning myself away." 

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