Aaron Heliker

Trainer with Hope for Heroes Equine Therapy Consulting

Aaron Heliker enlisted in the United States Air Force at 19 years of age, and after his training was completed, he had multiple deployments stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. His health was compromised by traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and he became unable to continue his military service. Aaron was prescribed 42 daily medications, and he became suicidal. Feeling desperate and isolated, Aaron was introduced to the nonprofit PATH International Equine Services for Heroes program by Debbi Fisher. She paired Aaron with a horse named Fred, and through caring for Fred and building mutual trust, Aaron began the difficult process of reconnecting to the world around him and healing the invisible wounds of war that nearly defeated him. Aaron, now successfully regaining his health, lives in Portland, Oregon and has become a trainer, working directly with military veterans in the PATH International Equine Services for Heroes program, and he is helping train PATH International instructors offering these programs at their centers. Aaron asks the trails community, “Let’s do all we can to preserve and provide access to trails, because trails bring unique, effective opportunities for healing to our nation’s military veterans.”