New Freedom Farm still helping veterans despite closing to the public for social distancing

Local News

BUCHANAN, Va. (WFXR News) – Despite having to close to the public because of the coronavirus, New Freedom Farm is still helping military veterans.

This weekend marks what would have been New Freedom Farm’s biggest event, Freedom Fest. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic caused it to be canceled.

In fact, the entire farm, which offers equine therapy and other resources to veterans, is closed to the public right now to avoid spreading the virus.

Now, the staff there is coming up with alternative ways to reach those they serve through the use of technology.

“We’re still here. The virus has just got us stopped,” said New Freedom Farm Barn manager Andrew Kintgen.

“We can’t control that, but what we can control is keeping people’s mind’s occupied by assisting them through social media.”

Andrew Kintgen is an army veteran who says he lost a lot, battled with depression and PTSD and at one point, wanted to take his own life.

“And I was trying to find other means to get help besides sitting on a couch with a counselor all the time,” Kintgen said.

After a while he found New Freedom Farm and saw what equine therapy could offer.

“It really helps to take down your anxiety levels and your depression levels. It feels good to come out here and have something to look forward to every day,” Kintgen said.

Now, with social distancing and the farm being closed to the public that’s not something people can get. So he’s working to bring that to them in other ways.

“We take videos. We post videos here at the farm. Some veterans who come to the farm have a claimed mustang out here that is theirs. They are the parents of the mustang,” said Kintgen.

“So what we’ve done is make videos of the horses for them personally.”

They are videos that people who would have come to Freedom Fest are able to watch from home. Like Andrew’s battle buddies he served in Iraq with.

“It would have been a great thing to be able to be there, but having this over social media is the next best thing,” said Luigi Canestraro.

They say they are proud to be able to watch Andrew interact with the horses and it helps them.

“Oh it gives me confidence, if he can be a cowboy then I can overcome my little issues. He’s doing awesome on the farm,” said Anthony Oliviero.

That includes Andrew’s brother, Steven Spurrell who lives in California but has visited the farm.

“When you see a veteran go through a program, and they’re doing good, that effects you as a veteran because that’s your brother,” Spurrell said.

Freedom Fest was scheduled for Saturday, April 4. The group of battle buddies says back on April, 4 in 2004, it was known as Black Sunday and a large number of soldiers in their unit died. They planned on having a remembrance in honor of them at Freedom Fest.

The group of battle buddies says they are still planning to get together for it, but it will look a little different than originally planned.

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