At 22 while working as a power lineman I was in an electrical accident. Resulting, in a 4 month stay in the burn unit, a leg amputation and 30 surgeries in 10 years to repair the damage. I discovered all too well what physical suffering was and found out soon enough what it's side kick, mental suffering, would be. I remembered the desolate feeling of not knowing what the future held. As always life moved on, regardless of what my losses may have been. In 2010 we, my wife and I, had been out of the mountain outfitting and guide business for 10 years. I was missing the mountains but wanted to start making trips that were of some significance. Give back and share what I loved and had made such a difference in my life.
I knew how to run the mountain pack trips, but was in dire need of some experienced help. Our friends and neighbors, Kail and Renee Mantle of Montana Horses, were our first choice. Montana Horses runs over 400 horses and I know that they are top horse hands, and I am not as young as I once was, and I needed a good cowboy with me on the trail. Packing with big mule or horse pack strings is a lot of work. When we approached Kail and Renee with the idea to help in putting together a horse program with summer pack trips and my reason why, all they said was, "we're in." They have hearts as big as the west! "Whatever you need, let us know." And just like that, the Heroes and Horses Program began it's journey to the next phase. Within 9 short months we had our first group of combat veterans step off the plane and the program was a reality.
Combat veteran and Soldiers' Angels Board of Trustees member Matt Burden helped tailor the Heroes & Horses project and has completed the Ranch Week. He works closely with individual veterans and veterans' associations to choose appropriate candidates who can benefit from participation in the project.
Combat veteran and Soldiers' Angels Board of Trustees member Mark Seavey helped tailor the Heroes and Horses project and has completed the Ranch Week. He works closely with individual veterans and veterans' associations to choose appropriate candidates who can benefit from participation in the project.
It was then that I started thinking that I would like to take returning wounded soldiers to Montana's backcountry. I come from a family background of many decades of military service. I knew I had a connection and knew all too well how they felt starting a new life with a loss of limbs or similar injuries, both physical and mental. So I started asking myself, how? I envisioned the experience in the Montana wilderness areas on horseback, giving them a glimpse of high mountain lakes and trails virtually untraveled. A vision of hope and promise of bigger and better adventures that lie ahead. This is the backbone of the Rockies, this Nation's backyard that they had fought to protect. My goal was to let them know that life goes on and the best is yet to come.
"They Gave All"
Won't You Help!
Colonel Tom Brewer US Army Rangers
Command Master Chief
Bob Audiss USNavy (SEAL)