Above, equine assisted therapy at Durango’s Therapeu-tic Experience is one benefit that wounded veterans could experience when the Welcome Home Alliance for vets expands to Durango. Courtesy photo.

Above, equine assisted therapy at Durango’s Therapeutic Experience is one benefit that wounded veterans could experience when the Welcome Home Alliance for vets expands to Durango. Courtesy photo.

By Caitlin Switzer

REGIONAL—(October 1, 2013)  She is a single mother, dividing her time between family and her work as a wildfire consultant and certified equine therapist in Durango.

And Tammy Tyner has a dream.

“My dad and I work with horses, and we have established an equine-assisted learning program geared toward veterans,” she said. “Our vision is to eventually have a ranch, here in Durango, dedicated to veterans. They could come out for two weeks of rest, relaxation, fun, and equine-assisted learning, for stress-relief and exercise.”

The ranch may still be a dream, but efforts to build a supportive organization for local veterans are fast becoming a reality, thanks to a community group that includes Tyner and her father, Ron.

Several weeks ago, Welcome Home Montrose Founder Melanie Kline spoke to two groups in Durango. One of those groups, headed by Ron Tyner, was composed of residents with a collective interest in learning more about the model established by WHM for serving as a clearing house for veterans’ resources and a gathering place for veterans’ activities, with the goal of creating a similar community resource in the Durango area.

“Look what our veterans have given us,” Tammy Tyner said. “I am grateful every day for the freedoms they fought for. We are talking about forming a 501 c 3, or perhaps turning to Welcome Home Montrose as a fiscal agent.”

Tyner said that she and the others were inspired by Kline’s presentation.

“Oh my gosh, I am so thrilled,” she said. “Melanie was willing to share how she got started, and the programs, offerings and activities available through Welcome Home Montrose.  Now, we are creating focus groups here and getting things rolling. There is a lot of interest by our city and our county, from local veterans’ organizations, and from people.”

The next step is to define and state the mission, she noted.

“We are involved and interested in being able to back our veterans up. There is a military saying, ‘Got Your Six,’ and it means essentially, ‘we have your back,’” she said. “We are eternally grateful for what you have done, and you can come here to get what you need.”

A longtime wildfire-mitigation specialist by profession, Tammy Tyner also heads the Wildfire Mitigation Association and engages in professional wildfire mitigation planning efforts with governmental organizations and local officials in addition to her work with equine therapy. She brings that careful planning ability to the new effort to serve veterans.

“Now that they are coming home, we want our veterans to know we got your six,” she said.

Kline, who said that both Durango groups (she also spoke to the Southwest Republicans) were interested in what Welcome Home Montrose has accomplished, and how those accomplishments were achieved, was pleased by the chance to share the mission.

“The message has also been very well received in Ridgway and Ouray,” Kline said. “I think eventually, the Welcome Home Alliance for Veterans will encompass the whole Western Slope of Colorado.

“What could be more exciting than that? Every day, we measure success with each person whose life changes for the better.

“We are happy to share our model.”

To learn more, visit www.welcomehomemontrose.org.