Horses & Heroes
Micah Fink is a family man, Navy SEAL, ironman, woodsman, and hunter. Raised in upstate New York, Fink joined the military in 2003. He racked up 13 combat deployments totaling nearly three years of boots-on-the-ground time in Iraq and Afghanistan as a Navy SEAL and as a private contractor on a special operations force. After 14 years in the military, his return to a comparatively easy civilian life left him severely depressed. In his own words, returning home from combat was the greatest challenge he has ever faced.
Fink found relief from the listlessness, and the numbness, when he started horse packing. The activity is a highly specialized style of backcountry camping in which campers ride horses instead of hike and are accompanied by pack mules to carry their tents, sleeping bags, clothes, food, and cooking supplies.
The deep backcountry of Montana is where Fink finds healing, growth, and transformation. He devotes himself full-time to Heroes and Horses, the Montana-based nonprofit to help troubled veterans find their way in the civilian world. He created an innovative, three-phase reintegration program, which is offered to qualifying combat veterans (at no cost to them) suffering from PTSD.
Heroes and Horses is known for the execution of ideas that change people’s lives through action, inspiration, and the shifting of beliefs. Every summer, Heroes and Horses takes 16 carefully-screened vets through a three-phase, five-month backcountry horsemanship program in Montana and Alaska in order to help them rediscover the confidence and courage that saw them through combat deployments, but which somehow got lost on the long journey home. The program provides extreme expedition-style horse pack trips that teach self-reliance, teamwork and perseverance. Experienced instructors, many who are combat veterans themselves, lead teams of veterans and their pack animals into the wilderness on epic, life-changing journey of discovery. To ensure applicants know they’re expected to show up ready to work, Fink adopted the hashtag #notavacation.
Fink launched Heroes and Horses after realizing, despite the thousands of PTSD-related nonprofits, and the billions spent every year, the statistics on veteran suicide and addiction was growing rapidly. In response to these staggering statistics, he created a veteran nonprofit with programming unlike anything else available. He even adopted 15 wild mustangs for the program, and in the process realized how much the mustangs had in common with the veterans he was trying to help: They were tough and brave and capable of thriving in harsh environments. Fink’s guiding philosophy, with horses and men, is that pressure and time are the essential ingredients of transformation, the same as they are in the universe at large.
Fink continues to inspire groups of people, from all different walks of life, through his unique approach to motivational speaking, and is frequently hired by sports teams and large corporations to ignite innovate thinking within their team members.