Q&A With Heroes and Horses Founder, Micah Fink (Part II)
1. Do you plan on expanding your program and developing start-up guidelines that will allow you to reach out and in to other states?
Yes, we are in the process of analyzing and strategizing around what scale will look like for this organization. As mentioned in the previous blog post, it’s always going to be a balance of helping as many people as possible, without ever compromising the integrity and effectiveness of our program. A franchise, or affiliation, model is one of the options that we are flushing out, as we do see enormous benefits with taking that direction – particularly when it comes to reaching more people.
2. What programs are offered in the winter? Those can be some of the toughest months to get through.
None right now due to facility and weather constraints. That said, next year we are looking into integrating a sub-program that will involve breaking new horses, and that will take place during the winter months. Like I always say: winter, summer, rain or snow – if you are living your purpose, then it only comes down to a jacket or sunscreen.
3. 2017 has been a very busy and successful year so far, with getting the BLM horses, to the 500-mile journey (awesome!), and having 16 veterans in class this year…my question is, what plans/events are in the works for next year?
And we still have so much more coming up this year! We have our annual fundraising event coming up on August 19th, and we have some pretty cool “500 Miles” updates that will be shared with all of you soon. With regards to next year, we are, as I mentioned before, working on a scaling project, and also a potential year-round “home base” partnership for the team and the horses. As we do every year, we are also working on continuously improving our veteran program, and working with Dr. David Alter on analyzing the data on this year’s students. We have a ton of innovative and impactful ideas on how to continue to drum up awareness around what are doing, but I will have to keep those under wraps for now – a man has to have some secrets!
4. Do those who go through the program keep in touch? Have any vets returned to go through the program again?
Absolutely. The continuing of the conversation and the follow up is a huge part of what makes Heroes and Horses different from other programs. We have current systems in place to ensure that our program graduates continue to have a support system, and we are in the process of finalizing an ambassador/mentorship program that will be offered to program graduates as well.
Do vets return to the program? No way! It’s not that type of deal. We created this program with the intention of it being the last program these guys every have to go through. That said, many of our graduates ask to return to help mentor future classes, and this is something that we are weaving into our upcoming ambassador/mentorship program.
5. What can people do to help promote the program?
Honestly, just talking about us. Share our posts on Facebook, wear our gear, etc. We are also in the process of streamlining the process around independent fundraisers with the goal of making it easier for you all to hold fundraisers on behalf of Heroes and Horses in your home towns.
6. Is your program only for military vets, and are there any plans for developing a plan for Emergency Responders?
Right now, yes. But that is not to say that we don’t see the need and the value to help other groups of people. We are still in our early stages of existence as a nonprofit, and you have to crawl before you can walk. We will get there, but we want to ensure that we have an extremely well-oiled machine before we start that type of expansion.
7. Do you miss NY?
HA! I have good memories of my “hometown” …Looking back, it really was “small town America”. It was a “one traffic light, lots of dairy farms and swimming in the creeks” kind of life. The smell of fresh hay in the summers still brings me back. That said, I don’t know that I would say that I miss it, as a truly love my life here in Montana. There is nowhere else I’d rather be.
8. Have you ever thought about a program for people with anxiety and depression (non-military)?
Definitely. I would like to run a class with nonmilitary individuals because this process is really a “people process” – it doesn’t just work for veterans. As a veteran myself, that is who I am focusing on, but when we get to a place where we are ready to expand our program I will 100% do this. The issues that our veterans are dealing with are versions of the same issues that civilians deal with – it’s just a different label. Pain and suffering don’t care if you are a veteran, a mom, or a bus driver – and neither does this process.
9. What is wilderness, and why does it matter to Heroes and Horses?
Wilderness plays an enormous role in what we do. We would not exist without it, nor would the program have the impact that it does. The Montana landscape, to me, is wilderness in its purest form, and I am a huge advocate for its protection. I think every American should take time to educate themselves on what “public land” is and how we can keep it protected for our children and programs like this. “This land was made for you and me”
Thank you everyone for taking the time to ask all of these thoughtful questions. I hope I was able answer them for you, and I encourage you to keep asking more! This is a community organization - not mine, but ours! I have been blessed with the opportunity to serve my fellow mankind, and I continue stay motivated and driven around the idea that this message and process is for every person - regardless of race, religion, or background. Because, ultimately, it is process that leads one back to where it all began - back to purpose.