Melrose Park, IL
Angie, US Air Force, served from 1989 – 1992. Her traumatic experiences during active duty as a Security Police Officer led to a struggle with PTSD, depression, and self-imposed isolation, which has spanned nearly 30 years. After Angie was referred to BraveHearts, she found herself in the round pen with mustangs, Oatie and Batman. She immediately felt a deep connection with these beautiful wild horses as they responded to each other’s movement and energy and communicated with no words. She had always loved horses, but this experience was different. Words cannot adequately describe the feelings of empowerment and worth which this unique therapeutic service left her feeling. Angie now rides on the all-veteran drill team and volunteers weekly at BraveHearts. She feels part of a close-knit community and desires to give something back to the program that gives her so much. Angie’s connection with the horses and the camaraderie she shares with her veteran brothers and sisters as they develop their horsemanship together grounds her, helps her find the courage to overcome fears and limitations, and strengthens her determination to persevere and succeed. This will be Angie’s first year riding in Trail to Zero. Angie will be riding in Trail to Zero Washington, DC, NYC & Chicago.
Tim, US Army, served from 2006-2010 .Born in Menominee Falls, Wi and raised in Rockford, Il, Tim was born the youngest of 3 children. After graduating from high school he took on the two biggest endeavors of his life in joining the U.S. Army, and the birth of his daughter Hailey (now 13 yrs old). Tim served as an Airborne Infantryman in the 82nd Airborne division where he did 2 tours in Iraq (18 mo & 13 mo) with just under 6 years in total service. Tim enjoys working with horses, songwriting, the outdoors and being immersed in nature.This will be Tim’s first year riding in Trail to Zero. Tim will be riding in Trail to Zero Washington, DC, NYC & Chicago.
Kyle F. & Ricky
Kyle, US Army, served from 2006 -2016 as a musician. Kyle was recruited out of college for his musicianship and went on to play in hundreds of funerals while serving in the military. Kyle sought out BraveHearts after a friend encouraged him that equine assisted services may help his symptoms from PTSD, which was an onset from his experiences playing taps in funerals and MST. Kyle has participated in weekly lessons since starting in 2017. BraveHearts is one of the two places in the world for Kyle that bring him tranquility. He is a very adaptable rider and eager to learn, as he has begun the journey to becoming a PATH International certified therapeutic riding instructor. Working with horses has helped Kyle to be more in-tune with himself and has given him tools that translate into his life and healing into each day. Kyle can often be found with his canine companion, Ricky, by his side. This will be Kyle’s first year riding in Trail to Zero. Kyle will be riding in Trail to Zero Washington, DC, NYC & Chicago.
Clarence, US Marine, served from 1970-2000, began participating at BraveHearts in 2015. Clarence relates to the horse and enjoys seeing the change occur between mustang and veteran. He feels that the two really understand one another and work towards the same goals. Clarence appreciates the comradery he has with his fellow veterans at BraveHearts sharing stories and supporting each other during lessons and through life. Most importantly, Clarence enjoys being with the mustangs as they help him to ease his mind and reassure him that everything is okay. Clarence recently moved to Pocahontas, AR to be closer to his children and grandchildren. This will be Clarence’s first year riding in Trail to Zero. Clarence will be riding in Trail to Zero Washington, DC & NYC.
Poplar Grove, IL
Mitchell, US Army, served from 2011-2012 where he was deployed to Afghanistan. It was his experience in Afghanistan that helped Mitchell find his true passion for helping fellow veterans to rebuild their lives through counseling and recreational sports, like horseback riding. While in Afghanistan, he obtained a physical injury to his back that brought him to spend some time using a wheelchair and cane to help him move around. During this time, he was also going through a divorce, which made him realize that he needed to find a better way to control his PTSD. While on this journey, he found BraveHearts, where he learned how to become an instructor through BraveHearts training and certification program. Mitchell became an instructor in 2017 and has taught not only veterans but also children, with various diagnoses, how to ride horses. He uses the horse to help his fellow veterans to experience at least 30 minutes (the length of a lesson) of relief from their PTSD symptoms. In return, Mitchell has been able to heal through working with horses and training wild mustangs at BraveHearts. This will be Mitchell’s second year riding in Trail to Zero. Mitchell will be riding in Trail to Zero Washington, DC, NYC & Chicago.
Machesney Park, IL
Bill, was drafted in 1966 for the Vietnam War. He served with the 20th Engineers Battalion in Pleiku, RVN from 1966-1967. Bill first started at BraveHearts in 2016 with his wife, Nancy, whom an avid horse lover was looking to get back to working with horses. Bill and Nancy began volunteering and quickly became immersed in the veteran program, riding together once a week. Bill tragically lost his son in 2017 and has stated that if it were not for BraveHearts, the horses, and his faith, he does not know how he would have been able to get through such a difficult time. Bill rides on the all-veteran drill team and is a PATH Intl. instructor. Bill was part of the 5 veterans who rode in the Trail to Zero pilot ride in 2017. This will be Bill’s third year riding in Trail to Zero. Bill will be riding in Trail to Zero Washington, DC, NYC & Chicago.
Dave Mould, US Marines Corp veteran, served from 1962- 1965. This father of five, has a true heart of service. Dave began at BraveHearts a volunteer and quickly fell in love with the horses and individuals he was helping, volunteering at least three times a week. When Dave was asked if he wanted to ride, he jumped on the opportunity and became immersed in the veterans program. Dave rides on the all-veteran drill team and is currently preparing to become a certified PATH International riding instructor. Participating in services has helped him to open up and talk about experiences that he never thought he would speak about. BraveHearts has given Dave a community of veterans and the opportunity to help others. This will be Dave’s first year riding in Trail to Zero. Dave will be riding in Trail to Zero Washington, DC, NYC & Chicago.
North Richland Hills, Texas
Mitchell, US Army Infantry, OIF/OEF veteran served from 2000-2004. Mitchell was introduced to BraveHearts through an Illinois VA program he was enrolled in. When he saw the mustangs, it was love at first sight. After his program ended, he came back from Texas to participate specifically with the mustangs at BraveHearts. He can relate to the mustang’s hesitations and difficulty with trusting their new normal and relates what the mustang is going through to his own experience with reintegrating into civilian life. Mitchell describes working with the mustangs as a tidal wave of emotions. He loves the challenge the mustang brings him and knowing that every inch the mustang gives him has been earned. He enjoys the rush of adrenaline he gets when first stepping into the round pen and explains the feeling that overcomes him when working the mustang as the most calming feeling he has ever experienced. He relates the soothing feeling that he is overcome with similar to the way it feels when holding and rocking his sons. After years of struggling with substance abuse and PTSD attacks, Mitchell has, for the first time since the military, been able to see a future for him and has the feeling that everything is going to be ok. He has obtained his PATH certification and has become very involved in BraveHearts teaching veterans and becoming a Special Olympics coach to teach children and adults to prepare for the equestrian games. After 1.5 years at BraveHearts, Mitchell has returned home to Texas to be with his wife and children. He is still very involved at BraveHearts and has spoken at the PATH 2018 Conference in Orlando, FL as the keynote speaker. His dream is to develop or work for a program in Texas to help more veterans. This will be Reno’s third year riding in Trail to Zero. In 2019, Reno rode in Trail to Zero Washington, DC, NYC & Chicago.
Corpus Christi, Texas
Trecia, US Army Veteran, served from 2009 – 2014. After returning home from war, Trecia was faced with emotional and physical injuries that left her angry and contemplating if life was worth living. After numerous therapies, Trecia found horses through a friend. Within a couple of months, Trecia began to rehabilitate and participating in daily activities that she once thought may never be possible, again. Trecia came to BraveHearts in 2015 to participate in a Working Cattle Workshop instructed by Shannon Hall and Doug Jordan. Trecia became immersed in riding and wanting to help fellow veterans to rediscover themselves and heal. She became certified at BraveHearts in 2016 as part of the first pilot program for the Instructor Training and Certification program for veterans. Trecia is currently a senior at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi studying to obtain her bachelor’s in Psychology. She is also currently working to open her own center to help reach more veterans. This will be Trecia’s second year riding in Trail to Zero. In 2019, Trecia rode in Trail to Zero Washington, DC, NYC & Chicago.
Michael is a United States Army OEF/OIF Veteran suffering from what he now knows is PTSD. For years, he compartmentalized these emotions. Unfortunately, these thoughts, feelings and emotions began to surface like a violent storm. He began to feel as if he had to be constantly on guard, he was always anxious, afraid, lonely, and ashamed and as if he was no longer the same man. He soon found that he could quickly cope with these feelings by self-medication. This led to an addiction causing stressed family relationships and avoiding life as it once was. It was not until a proper diagnosis that he could accept that he was truly sick and suffering. With the help of equine assisted services as well as the team at BraveHearts, he has been able to begin a new chapter of his life, which involves recovery. Michael no longer feels like he is going to be another statistic. Today, Michael feels hopeful and is rebuilding his life one day at a time. This will be Michael’s second year riding in Trail to Zero. In 2019, Michael rode in Trail to Zero Washington, DC, NYC & Chicago.
Marshall, US Marine, served from 1981-1989. Marshall became interested in BraveHearts when looking for an organization for his motorcycle club to donate funds for veterans with fellow veteran, Cowboy. After visiting BraveHearts, he soon became a volunteer helping other veterans and people in need in sessions. Shortly thereafter, Marshall started receiving lessons at BraveHearts through their Veterans Program. Marshall believes that there is a camaraderie that happens when working with the mustangs that is similar to the camaraderie found in the military. He feels that the mustangs are the spirit of survival. They represent freedom. The bond that happens from working with the mustang is the same profound bond that experienced in the military. Working with mustangs brings his mind at ease and a sense of nirvana overcomes him, which he is then able to share with everyone he encounters. Marshall became a PATH Intl. certified instructor in 2017 and is the Peer to Peer Specialist for veterans at BraveHearts. This will be Marshall’s second year riding in Trail to Zero. In 2019, Marshall rode in Trail to Zero Washington, DC, NYC & Chicago.
Glendale Heights, IL
Watching the Twin Towers fall on 9/11 as a child solidified Nichelle’s desire to join the Air Force, serving from 2008 until 2013. After a chance meeting with a BraveHearts instructor in 2017, she become hooked on the camaraderie and dedication shown by the BraveHearts horses, veterans, volunteers, and staff. Grateful and humbled by the opportunities afforded at BraveHearts she can often be found in the barn, emptying water buckets or cleaning horse stalls. As one of the youngest veterans and growing horsewomen she enjoys her time off the horse, leading in lessons or watching riders and instructors, almost as much as riding. Experiencing so many veterans who are open and honest about their mental health struggles and herself having a very stressful career in security with the federal government led her to get serious about her own anxiety. Still very much learning about horses and her own struggles with mental health she hopes to destigmatize mental health services for veterans and non-veterans alike. This will be Nichell’s first year riding in Trail to Zero. In 2019, Nichelle rode in Trail to Zero Washington, DC, NYC & Chicago.
Special Guest Veterans
Along with the veterans listed above, the veterans listed below also rode in Trail to Zero
Paul Martinez, SSG(RET) U.S. Army 2006-2014. Born and raised in Denver Colorado. Paul was an Airborne Ranger Sniper and deployed 6 times to Afghanistan with 3rd Ranger Battalion. Paul is the author of his combat memoir “When the Killer Man Comes” and is featured in “World of Firearms Sniper Journal and is featured in the poetry anthology “In Love &…War” from Dead Reckoning Co. Paul discovered horses while visiting an injured Ranger buddy who had lost the use of his right leg. Since that day, Paul has been committed to introducing veterans to the healing opportunity of horsemanship. Paul currently works for HorseAbility Foundation in Old Westbury, NY, where he manages their facility and is the director of their Veteran’s program.
September 28, 2019 - Chicago Only Veterans
Along with the veterans listed above, the veterans listed below will also be riding in Chicago
Menomee Falls, WI
Ron, US Air Force, served 24 active years before retiring. Ron started as a participant at BraveHearts and quickly grew to become an instructor. Ron is now the Equine Manager at BraveHearts caring for the herd of 41 horses. Ron enjoys working with the mustangs and horses at BraveHearts they have taught him more than he could have ever hoped. Ron states that he went from a self-destructive behavior and isolation to an active civilian, part of BraveHearts where he has started to realize his unlimited potential. 2019 was Ron’s first year riding in Trail to Zero. Ron rode in Trail to Zero Chicago.
Cpl. Nick, US Marine Corps, served from 2006-2010. When Nick first came to BraveHearts he began with grooming and spending time with the therapy horse’s in-hand and was eventually able to participate in riding. Nick became the first Wounded Warrior Project veteran to become a PATH certified instructor. Nick is a huge advocate for equine assisted services as he has seen first-hand how services help. Nick is currently teaching at BraveHearts as the Lead Veteran Instructor. He has been an inspiration for so many veterans to gain healing through horsemanship and to gain a vocational skill as an instructor. This will be Nick’s second year riding in Trail to Zero. Nick will be riding in Trail to Zero Chicago.
Gold Star Father & Board Chair
Ken is a Gold-Star Father. His son, US Marine, Cpl. CJ Boyd was KIA in Afghanistan in 2010. After C.J.’s death Patty attended, the first Gold Star Mother’s retreat held at BraveHearts, which she states, “saved her life.” Ken and his wife Patty have supported BraveHearts veterans since CJ’s death to honor CJ. Ken has become extremely active with BraveHearts riding, helping with special events, and currently sitting on the Board of Directors. Ken and Patty purchased a horse in 2016, fortuitously named Brother, who now holds the name “CJ’s” Brother. Ken has been riding weekly, ever since Brother has come into his life and attributes his healing to this remarkable horse and to the service; he has given to BraveHearts to help CJ’s brothers and sisters. 2019 was Ken’s second year participating in Trail to Zero.
President/COO & Master Level Instructor
Meggan Hill-McQueeney is a lifelong equestrian. Nationally, she has competed in both English and western events since childhood and, later, she competed at the Mustang Million. Meggan spent much of her time in the cutting horse and thoroughbred performance horse worlds, learning the art of breeding, raising and competing at the highest levels. Meggan is self-taught, relying on her experiences and her natural understanding of both horses and humans. She developed her own therapeutic riding program in 1996 and began a second in 1999. Meggan is a PATH International Master Level Instructor, a Special Olympics coach, a trainer for Illinois SO coaches, and a PATH evaluator. In 2010 Meggan stepped into the role of BraveHearts President/COO. She is the 2015 recipient of the PATH Intl. James Brady Professional Achievement Award, honoring her great dedication, proven leadership and high ethical standards as well as her ability to develop and implement innovative, creative and effective ideas for the industry. Meggan’s theories have resulted in the ability of BraveHearts to expand its veteran services nationally, helping BraveHearts PATH Premier Accredited Center retain its status as the largest veteran program in the nation, using innovative equine-assisted services. Meggan’s desire to provide quality programing through higher-degree horsemanship with veterans is achieved through advanced concepts including gentling wild mustangs; mentoring veterans to become PATH certified instructors, and working cattle. Under her leadership, BraveHearts has developed a top-notch team of staff and extraordinary horses providing 13,107 sessions to 726 veterans in 2017 – all at no cost to any veteran. Meggan is a firm believer, as heard in her 2015 TED Talk that all veterans deserve to be given limitless opportunities – and that belief is demonstrated daily through the veterans who organically begin to explore a world of possibilities because of the experiences with BraveHearts horses and staff. 2019 was Meggan’s third year participating in Trail to Zero.