Veteran program uses horses to heal - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Veteran program uses horses to heal

LA VALLE, Wis. (WXOW) ---- Having a pet at home is an especially important benefit for the servicemen and women who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder.  A new program in Sauk County is making a real difference in the lives of veterans living with  PTSD.

 Mark Lesko is a highly decorated war veteran and with the medals comes the memories.

Lesko says coping with the symptoms of PTSD is a daily thing and something that the animals at Douglas Legacy Farm seem to help.
Additionally, he says that veterans issues are sometimes forgotten more than remembered much like the horses in the program.

"A lot of these horses were race horses but once they stopped making their owners money it was time for them to move on. And a lot of them probably came off the kill floor," said Lesko.

Whether you come here to hang around the horses or just hang around, the Executive Director of the Veterans Therapy Program says all are welcome.

"It's not all about the riding. Coming out to this farm can be whatever a veteran wants it to be. Walking around the community garden, hanging out. The horses are just a part of it," says Sue Wellman.

But a part that the highly decorated Vietnam veteran says you can't deny.

"One good thing with animals is you can talk to animals and they don't tell your secrets," said Lesko.

Amid the secrets kept are the wishes granted. The farm is a sanctuary for veterans but also a safe haven for a mother-daughter pair who came to live at Douglas Legacy Farm at the request of a dying veteran.  He asked that the two horses live out the rest of their days at the farm together.  

Richard and Pearl Douglass owned the farm but left it in their will to the nonprofit.

The farm is also offering services to homeless Veterans.

For more information on the program, to make a donation and/or adopt a rescue horse go to and

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