Dennis Auslam understands the plight of the American veteran.
“A lot of veterans came home and were just dropped off,” said Auslam. “They were given no tools to cope with life. They all had experienced such huge life changes when they came back, but so many of them did not know how to deal with it.”
As a result, many of them did not adjust well. Unfortunately, that is still going on, said Auslam.
“I drive to bigger cities, and I see veterans sitting along the side of the road,” he said. “They are physically and mentally disabled. They are homeless. Many of them see no hope.”
As a result, those who survived the reality of war come home and give up, which is why the suicide rate among veterans is more than double that of civilians.
A recent study by the VA found 20 veterans become the victims of suicide every day. Auslam, who is a veteran, wants to change that, and he believes what he can offer to them is one method that can help them find hope.
In 1978, Auslam began a three-year stint in the Navy.
“Fortunately, I did not see any action,” said Auslam, adding, however, serving during the Cold War meant there were times when tensions were “pretty high.”
Auslam, who served on the USS Tunny, was an interior communications electrician on board that class of nuclear submarine.
Stationed at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, Auslam said he probably spent two years of his time in the military out to sea.
Serving his country was a family tradition, said Auslam.
“It was just something my family had always done,” he said, adding he believes serving in the military is something everyone should experience.
Those who know Auslam also recognize him as the owner and operator of Redwood Stables. The horse training business provides a chance for people to learn how to care for and work with their horses, and Auslam believes that work when done the right way is very therapeutic.
He also is convinced those veterans who are dealing with issues as a result of their time in the military can find some hope working with horses.
Auslam said he is currently working with four area veterans, all who served during the Iraq War. He admitted there are a lot of programs being offered across the country, but what he does at Redwood Stables is provide those first steps helping veterans learn how to handle a horse.
That, he said, could be as simple as showing them how to put on a saddle the right way to just knowing how to ride. It is amazing, he said, how a horse can help a person who is dealing with so much inside.
“Horses are very smart,” said Auslam, adding they will listen when you talk to them. For many veterans that is exactly what they need – something to talk to that will just listen without any judgment or answers.
Auslam grew up around horses and has decades of experience that he is willing to offer to veterans in the area.
“Horses can help bring stuff out of people,” said Auslam.
Even if veterans are not interested in working with horses, they are welcome to come out and talk veteran to veteran with him and others who are coming to the stables.
“This life is not all about me,” said Auslam. “A lot of these guys who are coming back are tough and have done some pretty amazing things. When they come back they are treated poorly and need to find some hope.”
That is what Auslam wants to provide – even a little bit of hope for them.
Auslam is planning in the future to work with veterans organizations to offer a more formal program and said he has been communicating with Marty Caraway, Redwood County veterans service officer, about getting re-certified to offer training in a more official capacity.
“I have been doing what I do for a long time,” said Auslam.“If I can even help one or two people find a reason to live, I’m in.”
Auslam has a Web site and Facebook page that includes his contact information. Those who would like to learn more or just sit down and talk are welcome to contact him.