MJ Higgins served in the United States Marine Corps as a Cyber Network Systems Chief with the infantry. He deployed with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit and completed two tours in Afghanistan with the 2nd Marine Division. After being honorably discharged as a Sergeant, he entered the private sector to pursue a career in Information Technology. A few years after being discharged, he admitted there were mental and physical ramifications from the war that needed tending to.
In January of 2017, he visited WarHorses for Heroes as a “trial” option while waiting for a spot in another program to open; however, he immediately bonded with the horses and staff. He requested to continue attending and learning. Throughout his time in the program, he wanted to learn more about equine therapy and the English riding discipline in general. He emailed Trey Lawson, the co-founder, after his second session and was able to start learning and volunteering after graduating the program. Since then, he has helped numerous other veterans continue their journey to recovery.
Now, MJ is a PATH International certified “Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning” and also serves on the Equine for Heroes Committee. With this, he is able to aid the continuing growth of the program. He also instructs the Advanced Rider course and is constantly working to improve his own skills in the English riding discipline. His next goal is to achieve certification as a PATH International “Therapeutic Riding Instructor”. Donations can be made in the WarHorses for Heroes shop to help offset the costs of this goal. As an ESMHL, he has also been able to expand beyond veterans equine therapy and works with the Memphis Jewish Community Center, and similar organizations, providing equine therapy to disabled adults and children. His wife and young son have become an intricate part of these programs with him. MJ’s passion for this work grows each day and the experiences gained throughout have been immensely rewarding.
In summary, MJ states “Helping other veterans work towards their recoveries is the ultimate experience. The people and horses are truly a family. It took me far too long to admit things weren’t alright and I needed a positive therapy program. WarHorses for Heroes accepted me and has allowed me to grow immensely. Now I look forward to helping others do the same.”