Published October 14, 2011
Arlington, VA – By grabbing the reigns to guide a 2000 pound horse, Lt. Col. Sam Nerove takes control of something else too, MyFoxDC reports.
"I was in the deepest, darkest, hell hole," says Nerove.
In the early 1990s she was injured in Dessert Storm and then returned to combat in Iraq in 2008.
"Similar environment. More rockets, bombs, bullets, and bodies," says Nerove.
Eventually her post traumatic stress disorder became so bad that she had to be Medevaced out.
"It got so bad that I couldn't even tell the difference between tents and buildings," says Nerove.
She still jumps at the sound of a plane landing at nearby Reagan National.
Nerove is part of the Caisson Platoon Equine Assisted Program at Fort Myers.
"Through this program, I have learned that I can do anything. If I can guide a horse, I can guide my life," says Nerove.
At a rider's side, members of the Old Guard. These are the same horses that pull the caisson at Arlington National Cemetery.
"If these horses weren't out here carrying their wounded comrades on their backs, they'd be pulling the caisson carrying one of their fallen comrades to their final resting place," says Larry Pence, a retired Command Sgt. Major in the Army.
The program has been around since 2006 and so far they've had about 125 wounded warriors out riding.
"The one thing they all have in common is that they all want to be contributing members of our society. It's humbling and inspirational every Thursday for me and it's just a blessing, of course, to be a part of it," says Pence.
He and retired Navy Commander Mary Jo Beckman are responsible for starting the program. Brian Isenhouer was stationed in Italy when he suffered a head injury in a car accident. He hopes driving the wagon is preparing him to one day get his driver's license back.
"It's helped me a lot, really it has," says Isenhouer.
"There was nothing to really prepare me for just the magic, the magic of what this really is and what it does," says Nerove.
The program is in the works of being expanded nationwide.