As COVID Exacerbates the Veteran Mental Health Crisis, 
BraveHearts’ “Trail to Zero” Rides On In Kentucky & Illinois

– Live and virtual equine rides raise awareness of veteran suicide epidemic – 

Harvard, Ill. (September 9, 2020)—As COVID brings to light the importance of open discussion about mental health and the need for more available resources, BraveHearts—the largest program in the nation using equine-assisted activities and therapies for veterans—will embark on its fourth annual “Trail to Zero” ride in Kentucky and Illinois. The 20-mile trail rides bring the epidemic of veteran suicide to the forefront of national conversation—20 veterans and active service members are lost to suicide daily—and educate veterans and citizens about the benefits of equine-assisted services as an alternative approach to healing. The Kentucky ride will take place at the Kentucky Horse Park and Spy Coast Farm. The Illinois ride will take place privately in Bull Valley, Illinois, and will be broadcast as a virtual hour-long program with live and recorded elements.

“Now, more than ever before, mental health is being recognized as a critical component of our wellbeing,” said Meggan Hill-McQueeney, President/COO, BraveHearts. “Many men and women who have served our country are struggling. BraveHearts is here to offer a solution through equine assisted services for all those who have had trouble finding relief.” 

BraveHearts is the largest Professional Association for Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) accredited program in the country that has served thousands of veterans all at no cost, offering equine services to provide emotional, cognitive, social, and physical benefits for veterans. Veterans at BraveHearts report benefits including increased self-esteem, self-worth, and trust of others, and decreased depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, and suicidal ideations. 

“While our rides might look a little different this year, we’ll continue to ride 20 miles for the 20 veterans and active service members we lose to suicide every day until this number is zero,” added Hill-McQueeney. 

Kentucky’s Trail to Zero will take place during National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month on September 25. The Illinois’ Trail to Zero will take place as a virtual event on October 11. This year, BraveHearts is proud to partner with Equitana USA, the premier North American forum that promotes the exchange of ideas, information, and experiences to enhance the horse and the equine industry. Join the call to action by becoming a “Trail to Zero Hero” by completing 20 miles walking, running, biking, or even 20 jumping jacks or 20 loads of laundry. Post a photo on social media and tag #TrailtoZEROHero to raise awareness for military suicide prevention. 

Visit https://pages.donately.com/bravehearts/campaign/trailtozerohero to get involved. To learn more, visit www.trailtozero.org and see more photos at #TrailtoZero.

Meggan Hill-McQueeney, President and COO, BraveHearts. A lifelong equestrian, she developed her own therapeutic riding program in 1996 and began a second in 1999. Meggan is a PATH International Master Level Instructor, a Special Olympics coach, a trainer for Illinois Special Olympic coaches, and a PATH evaluator. In 2010, Meggan stepped into the role of BraveHearts President/COO. She is the 2015 recipient of the PATH Intl. James Brady Professional Achievement Award, honoring her great dedication, proven leadership, and high ethical standards as well as her ability to develop and implement innovative, creative, and effective ideas for the industry. Meggan’s theories have resulted in BraveHearts’ ability to expand its veteran services nationally, helping BraveHearts PATH Premier Accredited Center retain its status as the largest veteran program in the nation, using innovative equine-assisted services. 2020 will be Meggan’s fourth year participating in Trail to Zero.