KEMPNER, Texas — Many people struggle with PTSD, and Central Texas is full of current and former service members fighting that battle every day.
For soldiers like Army Ranger and Master Sergeant Tyler Hopkins, it can be a hard battle to win.
”I really struggled with it for a long time,” said Hopkins, Camp Cowboy Graduate.
“For a long time, it was hey you know, the next fight, worry about your soldiers and never really putting myself forward until I had a come to life moment. I knew I needed to make a change.”
It’s people like MSG Hopkins that inspired retired U.S. Army Special Forces veteran Scott Robison, and his son Lane, to put their horse ranch to work and start Camp Cowboy.
”A lot of people have family issues when they come back, a lot of people suffer from PTSD, some people just get a little bit lost when they transition out of the military,” said Scott Robison, owner of Robison Ranch and Cofounder of Camp Cowboy.
"There’s a lot of different reasons for Camp Cowboy, but we take the tools and help in every one of those aspects.”
Gathering on their massive ranch allows for open air, a chance to escape from everyday life, and a sense of community that many veterans have been missing since leaving the military but, it’s learning how to take care of the horses that has had a surprising effect on most of them.
”It was very shocking that once you form that bond and how much they trust you and how much they need you to protect them, guide them, feed them, and just take basic care of them,” MSG Hopkins said.
“It’s a really strong bond that is really hard to describe.”
MSG Hopkins has served several combat tours overseas and is still enlisted, so he knows that no one should have to wait to get help if they're struggling.
”I continue to get help and encourage our service members to get help because nothing is more important than your mental health and well-being, because you can’t be there for you soldiers in your unit if you’re struggling with those demons within,” MSG Hopkins said.
For him, graduating from one of Camp Cowboy’s nine-week courses has not only helped him cope with his PTSD, but has also helped him to be a better and more patient leader to his soldiers.
Camp Cowboy isn’t stopping at helping those struggling with PTSD anymore.
As of April 28, Camp Cowboy is taking their dedication to soldiers and their families to a new level and expanding their educational services.
They are now offering free classes and certificate courses through their Camp Cowboy University.
A unique opportunity for veterans, first responders, active-duty military and their families — and it’s not all about horses.
”We have hundreds of thousands of dollars in education software that is used that’s used for a lot of corporations from how to do a SWAT analysis — if you want to learn how to do that,” Robison said.
“They have a whole program, with diagrams, that teaches you how to do that and certification programs on how to win an interview.”
Through the Camp Cowboy University link on their website, you can access a wide range of learning and skills training options — and it is completely free for veterans, first responders, active-duty military and their families.
For anyone struggling with PTSD or anyone who simply wants to make a positive change in their life, Camp Cowboy offers several nine-week courses a year.