FRIERSON, LA (KSLA) - Armed with a commercial vacuum and an incredibly compassionate personality, Kevin Russell has spent the last 20 years sweeping and fixing chimneys.
“Its tears me up in what it does,” a tearful Russell begins, while talking about his new non-profit called Warrior Horse.
“One of my curses and blessings, I feel other people’s pain. And I know what they’re going through,” he says about the veterans he’s hoping Warrior Horse will begin helping in the very near future.
Warrior Horse is a equine therapy program Russell first began developing five years ago. And later this week, it officially launches with a fundraiser kickoff inside the Horseshoe Riverdome.
Speaking about what many of our veterans are going through on a daily basis, Russell remarked, “I can’t even imagine what they go through. But to get them back and the hell they go through, and then lose them on American soil, is unacceptable.”
As he prepares for Friday night’s fundraiser, worked continues on the new therapy arena being erected on his property in Frierson, south of Shreveport.
And that’s where we met one local veteran who has been offering Russell a hand, and benefiting from time spent with some of Russell’s therapy horses.
“I had never been around horses before. I’m actually a little scared of them,” Kevin Nixon admits.
But upon his first visit to the site of Warrior Horse, Nixon quickly developed a bonding relationship with 1,800 pound Percheron, Jet.
“There’s a trust there. They trust you, and you trust them. And that’s kind of a big thing," explains Nixon.
After 6 years in the Army, much of that as an Airborne paratrooper, a lack of trust in others has been a major battle for Nixon, and his wife Beverly.
“You don’t want to watch the person you love struggle, when you don’t know why they’re struggling or how to help that,” Nixon’s wife shares.
Nixon’s time in Somolia in 1993 left him with many struggles that still plaque him today.
“We were in the country for a week or two and got into a major ambush,” begins Nixon.
He says this attack on his unit came just weeks before the Battle of Mogadishu, and the black hawk down incident.
“The biggest is the kids. They’re armed and shooting at you, too," a memory that feeds Nixon’s trust problems, even today.
The progress Russell sees in Nixon, while he continues to spend time with his horses, is the same kind of progress he’s hoping he’ll see with all veterans that will soon be able to sign up for Warrior Horse.
“I can handle the tears of joy, Doug,” an emotional Russell continues.
“It’s been real for five years since I got this calling, standing by this round pen, watching someone get their life back.”