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About Us2018-12-15T16:30:56+00:00

Welcome Home

You have done your job.
Now is the time for you to heal.
V.E.T.S is the place for that to happen.

Veterans Equine Therapeutic Services (V.E.T.S.) provides equine-assisted programs to veterans with physical, cognitive and emotional challenges. Benefits that V.E.T.S. clients enjoy are improvement in many aspects of life, from strength, flexibility, and balance to cognitive, behavioral and emotional well-being. A  501c3 non-profit organization in Southeastern Connecticut, V.E.T.S. mission is to provide healing therapeutic services to the veteran community through equine and educational engagement.

V.E.T.S. vision is to be a trusted leader in equine-assisted activities through service, education and partnerships. We provide a quiet and peaceful environment in which to learn horsemanship, re-connect with oneself and others, and develop bonds with other veterans.  Our horses are trained to be sensitive to the needs of individuals experiencing anxiety, stress, reintegration difficulties, and other issues related to military service.  They are patient and calm of spirit and mind which helps the student feel at ease and relaxed.

MEET THE TEAM

Our staff are at the heart of  V.E.T.S. We are a collaborative of military veterans and equine experts.

Craig McCalister

Executive Director

Instructor

In addition to being the Founder,  Executive Director, and President of the Board of V.E.T.S., Craig is also the manager of 33 Golden in New London, CT.  A native of Youngstown, New York, Craig currently resides in New London, CT.  He  retired in 2011 as a Chief Petty Officer with 24 years of service.  He served 10 years with the U.S. Navy and 14 years with the U.S. Coast Guard.  His last post was at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy as an instructor for the Leadership & Management School as well as the Boat Forces Command Cadre School.  He is in the process of completing his certification as an Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning.

Thor Torgersen

Brand and Marketing Director

Lead Instructor

Thor is in the process of completing his certification as an Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning. He owns a graphic design and marketing firm in New London, CT.

Christina Clark

Business Director

Instructor

In addition to being the Co-Founder, Business Director, Board of Director’s Member and an Instructor at V.E.T.S., Christina works at General Dynamics Electric Boat (www.gdeb.com) in Groton, CT.  She also is the Board of Director’s Secretary for Guardians of the Purple Heart (gotph.org), the Vice President for Women in Defense – New England Shoreline Chapter (www.wid-nesc.org) and a member of Electric Boat Management Association (www.ebma.us). She holds a Bachelor of Science Double Major in Accounting and Finance, a Master’s in Business Administration with a Specialization in Leadership and a certification as a Certified Manager. Christina has worked with equine therapeutic programs in various capacities for 10+ years.  She has 21+ years of experience riding and training horses, as well as numerous years teaching lessons.  She is in the processing of completing her certification as an Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning   Christina is very passionate about helping others in their personal as well as professional lives.  She currently resides in Mystic, CT.  “The wind of heaven is that which blows between a horse’s ears.” – Arabian Proverb

Doug Capazzi

Military Outreach Director

Doug is an veteran of the Army who served for 8.5 years and was deployed twice in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Doug has received many military awards to include the Army Commendation Medal and the Army Achievement Medal. As the Military Outreach Director for V.E.T.S., he takes great pride in assisting those in need and will stop at nothing to make the impossible happen. When he is not networking with other organizations, he is finding new ways to bring success and notoriety to the V.E.T.S. program.

Doug is currently pursuing his MBA in Marketing and would like to use his education to continue to work in the non-profit field with programs geared towards serving the veteran community. Additionally, his personal mission and goal in life is to reduce the “22 A Day” veteran suicide rate by any means possible.

Gary Schmid

Development Director

Gary spent his early years in a rural village in Ohio around horses. He left to join the United States Naval Nuclear power program eventually certifying as Engine Room Supervisor and qualifying in Submarines aboard the world’s first nuclear submarine USS Nautilus (SSN571). Upon completing eight years of service to his country he continued to pursue his love for aviation while being involved in the civilian nuclear power industry. With experience gained he began his aviation career. Being fortunate to be involved in the infancy of the overnight package industry flying some of the first aircraft for UPS and eventually serving as the Vice President of Operations for several airlines.
As airlines merged or closed, he became involved with various business enterprises. As a farrier and founding member of the Connecticut Horseshoers Association he broadened his equine experience. As broker/owner of his multi office real estate company he quickly held a majority market share in several towns. Time with the State of Connecticut as Airport Manager of Groton Airport broadened his experience in marketing and team management. As Superintendent of the Fishers Island Electric Co. he used both managerial and engineering skills to train employees and upgrade existing systems. He retired after over seventeen years as the Senior Flight Captain for General Dynamics Electric Boat.
With time now available and a strong desire to help fellow servicemen he became involved with the US Submarine Veterans eventually serving on the board of directors while overseeing the development and growth of the Docent Program at the Submarine Force Library and Museum Association.
He looks forward to his involvement with the VETS.CT program as it expands to provide new Equine Therapeutic programs for his fellow veterans.