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Disability Network Southwest Michigan

Removing Barriers Broadens Your Horizons

Kacie was first referred to Disability Network Southwest Michigan through the Veterans Vocational Rehabilitation program. Through this program, our staff works with veterans to remove barriers to employment that exist due to a disability. Kacie has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and experiences chronic pain due to neurological causes.

2 women in a tac room at horse stable

Our staff met with Kacie to develop an Independent Living Plan which would outline her independent living goals, identify what barriers exist, and lay out the best path for achieving those goals. Due to her PTSD, Kacie had become quite reclusive; aside from her sister and nephew who she lives with, Kacie had cut off all social contact for nearly two years.

Staff worked with Kacie to explore various programs and volunteer opportunities that would incorporate her interests while slowly integrating her into social interaction with others. We connected Kacie with the Therapeutic Equestrian Center (TEC) in Watervliet which has a “TEC with Vets” program that provides services to veterans at no cost. Kacie and her sister, who is also a veteran, began attending weekly sessions at TEC. Kacie liked the people (and the horses) so much she also signed up to be a volunteer at TEC which provides her with additional opportunities to be out of the house and interacting with people.

Staff continues to work with Kacie to engage her in social activities, such as veterans peer support events, and provide her with options for other social interactions. Kacie is exploring her interests and feels more secure in leaving the house and being with other people. She said that being around the horses at TEC helps her in socializing with people because, “The horses all have different personalities, just like people do, and I realize that sometimes you just need to get to know them a little bit to be comfortable with them.”