You are passionate about helping US veterans, as you were born into a military family. Have you ever wanted to join the military?
I actually have thought about it, but as athletic and active as I am, I’m still not sure I could get through boot camp. Haha. I think I’m better off doing my part through my charity Hounds and Heroes, supporting the troops down range on USO tours, sending care packages, and visiting the veterans in the VA hospitals. That’s a passion of mine that will never stop. Coming from a military family has shown how truly noble and honorable service can be.
You’ve traveled abroad on nineteen USO tours, have visited veterans in hospitals, and even spoken on behalf of veterans on Capitol Hill in Washington DC. You’ve seen some pain there and heard hundreds of stories… If it was in your power, what would be one thing that you would change so our soldiers don’t have to experience so much trauma?
The men and women in our armed forces protect us throughout the world and sometimes pay the ultimate sacrifice. When they are discharged, retired, or finish their enlistment, they are sometimes cast aside. These brave men and women should have lifetime medical, housing, and life counseling. The government should be building subsidize housing for homeless veterans, especially those suffering from addiction and mental illness. These veterans should not be living on the streets! The current policy gives lifetime medical to those who serve 20 plus years. All veterans who have deployed should have lifetime medical. The key reason for my charity Hounds and Heroes and charity work with veterans and active service members was to help with PTS and TBI. While doing meetings on Capitol Hill to advance and support the increased use of rescue dogs and horses to use in service for our veterans, additional ideas have been brought to my attention that should also be considered by Congress and the VA. That includes the study and use of hyperbaric chambers, CBD, and equine therapy which I also do though Hounds and Heroes. This would eliminate over-medicating these veterans. However, there is always one common dark thread that runs through the stories of those fighting for these creative therapy solutions – the pushback against any treatment that does not solely rely on pharmaceuticals, lots of pharmaceuticals. The pharmaceutical industry makes billions of dollars a year selling drugs to the federal government for the treatment of veterans and service members suffering from a wide range of injuries, internal and external, and they aren’t about to let any of that slip away. So hopefully we can get some of these bills passed on the hill.
You are also very passionate about saving and helping animals. You’ve helped an enormous number of animals throughout your life and continue to do so. However, you attend the Kentucky Derby. Horse racing is controversial and considered unethical by many. How do you perceive horse racing?
A few people have asked why I work with the Thoroughbred racing industry. Those who know me and know of my many years of lobbying on Capitol Hill to end horse slaughter and improve equine welfare, know the answer. If we want to end the slaughter of Thoroughbreds (and all horses), we need the Thoroughbred racing industry to get behind the campaign to end horse slaughter. Few are probably aware, but some of the biggest supporters of ending horse slaughter have come from the racing industry. These individuals have provided significant funding towards anti-horse slaughter print, radio and TV ads, Washington, DC and state lobbyists, and large scale rescue efforts for rescues you might know and support. These same individuals have also committed to advocating for significant changes to the racing industry such as overbreeding, drugging, and other issues. If we want to make a change to equine welfare, it is important to be open to working with everyone. I am not nor will I condone the wrongs of the Thoroughbred racing industry or anyone who harms a horse. I want to end horse slaughter and will work with those who want to make a difference. If we continue to attack everyone who wants to help, the abuse will continue. I want to focus on solutions and not attacking those working to make a difference. Working from the “inside” can be challenging, but it has also proven to be incredibly productive.