Nationally Recognized PTSD Program Based In Gerry To Be Featured On “Military Makeover”

Image by Justin Gould/WNYNewsNow.

GERRY – A nationally recognized equine assisted therapy program designed to aid in prevention of suicide and work with veterans that experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) will be featured on Lifetime’s “Military Makeover,” hosted by Montel Williams.

The show, as originally reported by WNYNewsNow, will feature the story of Ashville resident Cody Willet. Willet, a weapons supply technician for special operations teams in the United States Air Force, was injured four months into his second deployment when his base was attacked.

The airman suffered a fractured lower spine, dislocated shoulder, and a damaged ankle due to a rocket propelled grenade attack. The now computer specialist with the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Department works with the county’s PFC Joseph P. Dwyer Peer to Peer Program, run by Cindy Reidy. Recently, the Dwyer Program teamed up with N.E.I.G.H. (National Educational Institute of Growth through Horses) to help vets with PTSD.

Dawn Samuelsom, the program’s founder, said she the program is designed to aid in the prevention of suicide and work with veterans that experience PTSD, bereavement, anxiety, depression, and anger issues.

“First responders and veterans are people we really need to focus on helping,” said Samuelson. “If I can be out there, and our personnel can be out there to help guide them through that, that is a huge blessing for us.”

The project not only works with veterans, but active military and their families as well.

Samuelson recently joined forces with Homestead Stables to provide equine assisted therapy to many people, including veterans, who face unique challenges as they return home.

“We want to be able to put as many veterans through the program as possible,” said Samuelson. “The Dwyer group has been able to help us get funding to be able to put five or six veterans through the program for eight weeks; that’s a start.”

Samuelson said she hopes to be able to have as many vets go through the program, at no cost to them. Those workshops allow people and horses to interact with each other in a non-threatening, non-judgmental atmospheres.

The program also includes a component known as “Beyond the Reins” which focuses on experiences for at-risk youth, battered women, and communication workshops for corporations, as well as Horse and Handler and N.E.I.G.H. University, which offers certification, apprenticeships, and practitioner training.

The show is slated to begin production in May, with an air date to be announced by Lifetime and other national syndicates.

Homestead Stables, a new addition to Heritage Ministries, is a state-of-the-art equestrian center located in Gerry. The stables provide intergenerational equestrian opportunities as well as boarding, training, and lessons, and feature 41 stalls. The stables also have a 112-foot wide by 219-foot long riding arena gives horses room to trot and interact with trainers and guests.

To learn more about Lifetime’s Military Makeover show visit

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