Struggling veterans get a second chance at Shiloh Ranch

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — In this week’s Veterans Voice, a combat veteran teams up with a former Raiders player to give our struggling service members another shot at life.

Often the traumas of conflict come back with our freedom fighters, and horse therapy gives some of them a new perspective.

At Shiloh Ranch, they reorient the horse so they can reorient the veteran.

“We have a saying here that ‘my therapist lives in a barn,'” said JP Hoffman, veteran and founder of Liberty Projects.

Hoffman is an Army veteran who fought in Central America, Africa and the Middle East. When he lost his lifelong friend to suicide in the military, it made him reevaluate.

“Why haven’t I seen him?” Why didn’t I take him to dinner that night when we were together? I continued, what did I miss? It led me to ‘I can do more,’ and that’s how it was born,” Hoffman said.

Here, equine therapy is as much about the horse as it is about the veteran – both working to make sense of each other.

“If you’re having a bad day and you’re in a bad mood and you’re making fun of everyone you love, you can’t do that to them because they’ll reflect that back to you – and they weigh 1,000 pounds,” a he declared. noted.

The veterans he helps are usually trying to overcome post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

“I don’t like ‘messy,’ because it feels like there’s a character flaw in there somewhere,” Hoffman said. “And for me, no, you can go through anything traumatic and create it. It turns out that servicemen have gone through more traumatic events in less time. »

Hoffman is not alone here. He teamed up with a former Las Vegas Raiders player to keep his dream above water.

“JP is a brother,” said retired Raiders player Jay Schroeder. “We must be so close that I consider him a brother. We are a family. And when he wanted to do this project, I couldn’t say no.

The ranch is completely self-funded, having approximately 18 veterans who have undergone therapy so far.

“I’ve always had a soft spot for veterans because they let me go play a game for a living,” Schroeder said. “Think about it, I have to go and play a game because I was living in a free country, and that doesn’t happen in the world. The more I can help them live a normal life when they come back, let’s do it.

And when someone develops that bond with the horse and turns a new leaf in life, that’s the only proof Hoffman needs.

“My hope is that when they think that and life has knocked them down, they give me one more day or give themselves one more day,” Hoffman said. “It is worth it.”