Ontario Pathways hike helps ‘Mission Mustang’ for veterans

Twenty-two veterans and military personnel die by suicide every day. For Marine Corps veteran Brett Avery, that is more than a statistic. Avery, 26, has lost three friends to suicide. One of them, a military comrade Avery said he loved “like a little brother,” took his own life in November 2016.

Avery, who joined the Marines out of high school and served eight years, has had his share of anguish and upheaval. Last month, he joined a program called Mission Mustang. A national, pilot program at the EquiCenter in Mendon, it pairs veterans battling their own high anxiety, hyper-vigilance and post-traumatic stress with wild mustangs sharing similar feelings. Six mustangs were brought from Wyoming to the center specifically for the program.

“I could stay out there all day,” said Avery, who has been working with a mustang he named Liberty. “There’s a different kind of peace and atmosphere that is hard to describe unless you feel it. These horses are absolutely amazing, and I’m cherishing every second.”

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