They sacrifice their time and resources to enhance the program, while offering valuable insights as program Alums! Our Volunteer Team is always working towards improving the program and its outreach to our veterans.
Veteran Volunteer Program Co-Founder
"I look forward to sessions every week. Being able to help those who are in situations that I was in, really pushes me to continue my recovery and my desire to help other veterans."
Doug Fugit served in the US Army as a crew chief in Vietnam. He entered the WarHorses for Heroes program through the Memphis VA Hospital. After graduating the program, he offered his services as a volunteer and helps out every way he can. Each week, he enjoys helping other veterans cope with their issues by interacting with the equines. Doug has also become part of the Advanced Rider Program and has been honing his equestrian skills through groundwork and riding lessons. Another passion of his, is the creation of after-care programs that ensures fellow veterans have all the resources they need to continue walking down the path of recovery.
As of now, Doug is pursing his "Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning" certification through PATH International. Donations can be made in the WarHorses for Heroes shop to help offset the costs of this goal.
"Becoming a part of WarHorses for Heroes has helped me in so many ways. The brotherhood and caring for the horses makes each day worth being here. The friends at the stable show care and respect for the veterans and they help us mend our minds. I appreciate all they have done for us!"
Terry Lemmon served over twenty years in the US Army as an Airborne Ranger and Special Operations Operator. He served in multiple combat operations as a sniper and team leader. He entered WarHorses for Heroes through the Memphis VA Hospital and instantly felt a connection. Each week, he looked forward to seeing the other veterans and, especially, the horses. After graduating the program, Terry offered his services as a volunteer and helps out every way he can. He has continued to dedicate himself to aiding other veterans in their journey to recovery and says that is even more therapeutic for him than being in the program. Terry has also become part of the Advanced Rider Program and has been honing his equestrian skills through groundwork and riding lessons.
As of now, Terry is pursing his "Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning" certification through PATH International. Donations can be made in the WarHorses for Heroes shop to help offset the costs of this goal.
"Volunteering for WarHorses for Heroes has really opened my eyes to the field of PTSD and it has been so rewarding for me to see how much equine therapy helps these men and women in a natural way. It is truly amazing to be able to witness miracles through animal-assisted therapy and also to work with people who are so passionate about helping others."
Jessika Sievers, nicknamed, Sika (pronounced Seeka) is currently studying at the University of Memphis in the Clinical Mental Health Masters program. She is on track to graduate in December of 2019. Her goal after graduation is to become an addiction counselor, because she believes there is an enormous need for effective counselors in the Memphis metro area.
Sika also loves working with PTSD veterans and dreams of being about to combine counseling and equine therapy in her professional career.
She is an amazing member of the team and continues to educate other volunteers and staff about the best practices and current methods of working with specific conditions, such as addiction and PTSD.
"Last year, when I found out I have endometriosis, and that it would derail all our plans of starting a family, I just completely shut down and dove head first into depression. I rode horses growing up, so I started taking lessons to distract myself -- a new goal to work towards, I guess -- but working with horses ended up being much more than a fun hobby. These animals have an incredible ability to sense and respond to all your emotions, and it's encouraged me to be aware of my feelings and center myself. It's immensely healing, and with WarHorses, I hope I can give back even an ounce of what Oak View Stables and their horses have given me."
Rebekah Olsen is the Senior Copywriter for Well Refined Marketing Agency. But, she also once owned a precious metal recycling business and graduated from the University of Memphis with a Masters in English. Currently serving on the board of two local organizations, Rebekah looks forward to sharing her experiences with WarHorses for Heroes along with her brother, Tim Lester, who served in the Marine Corp. She lives in Olive Branch, Mississippi with her husband, Matt, and their (really big) dog, Midas.
“I fell in love with the program after the first day of volunteering. I enjoy helping my fellow brothers through the program, but it’s not a one-way street.”
Tim Lester served in the United States Marine Corps as a mortarman squad leader. He found WarHorses for Heroes through his sister, Rebekah, who takes English riding lessons at Oak View Stables. She informed him of the program, their mission, and the volunteer opportunities available.
Tim says that volunteering in the program gave him a positive coping technique to help him deal with his own issues. Along with volunteering, he is also a nursing student at the University of Memphis and has a dream of becoming a pediatric flight nurse after graduating.
“I’ve really enjoyed spending time with WarHorses for Heroes. The sessions never fail to put a smile on everyone’s face, and the veterans really appreciate that. It’s just a happy environment, so even the hard work is fun.”
Sloane is a big Memphis Tiger fan, and recently graduated with an Education degree from U of M. She enjoys spending time with her two dogs exploring Memphis. Good weather can easily lead them to great adventures in one of the parks nearby. Recently reacquainted with equestrian work, she’s loved being able to get back in the saddle. But without the opportunity to know many of the veterans in her family, she mostly appreciates connecting with others in the community.