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Defenders of Freedom

Mission Statement

Defenders of Freedom provides donors with the organization they need to support post 9/11 Veterans in their transition to civilian life through emergency financial assistance, morale building programs, and traumatic brain injury treatment.


Our Story

Defenders of Freedom (DOF) was founded in 2004 by Donna Cranston. As the mother of a warrior deployed in Iraq, Donna combined her personal experiences as a military mom with her passion and desire to help our Veterans succeed with honor as they returned home. Raised in a family that instilled patriotism, Donna began her journey working with Veterans by sending care packages overseas to the Troops and participating in the Welcome Home a Hero program at the Dallas Fort Worth Airport. This program supported the Army’s Rest and Recuperation program for weary Soldiers who came home for 2 weeks during their yearlong tour. Donna attended her first DFW greeting in June of 2004, and it changed her life forever. Through these activities and the unfilled needs that Donna learned from her interactions with Veterans, she founded Defenders of Freedom as an avenue to connect the community to service members. Most Americans support our Troops, but just don’t know how they can help. They just needed a tangible way to participate. DOF began providing assistance to Veterans by sending care packages and providing emergency financial assistance to those that returned with disabilities and were badly in need. Donna listened to these men and women and responded to their needs. DOF expanded its services to include an evidence-based approach to treating Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in Veterans.

TBI is the signature wound for post 9/11 Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and historically, very little had been done to successfully treat the injury. Defenders of Freedom identified a solution to this debilitating injury and is committed to helping Veterans get this life changing treatment. Functional neurology is proving to improve the lives of the Veterans we put through the program. We believe it might be the most effective tool in combatting suicide among post 9/11 Veterans.

DOF serves both male and female Veterans who have deployed to the middle east. We have worked with Veterans across 32 states. Veterans are referred to us from the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), crisis hotlines, local social service providers, and by word-of-mouth from other Veterans.

According to the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, TBI is a significant health issue which affects service members and Veterans during times of both peace and war. This condition is estimated to have affected 370,000 service members since 2000. For every soldier killed since 2003, seven soldiers have been injured. Multiple deployments enhance the chances of leaving a tour with TBI. Many Soldiers make it home from war seemingly outwardly untouched, when in reality they are some of the most debilitated. What we have learned from Veterans is that until they receive proper treatment for a TBI, rather than just prescribed medication to address symptoms, their road to healing is both long and challenging. It is common for DOF to see Veterans who were stellar Soldiers while on active duty, now unable to hold down civilian jobs and have no idea why they are not able to properly function. DOF has worked tirelessly with these Veterans to help them get the care that they need to get them on the right path.

Defenders of Freedom’s primary goals are to provide care and transitional support for our Troops and Veterans, assistance with basic living necessities through short-term emergency financial support, address imminent physical and mental health issues, improve morale, keep Veterans engaged in a supportive community, and to provide access to Veterans with TBI to a comprehensive treatment protocol.

If you would like more information about our program you may contact us at: or



Dallas, TX

Kansas City, MO

Pittsburgh, PA

Pensacola, FL


Service Area:
HOPE Project, Inc

The HOPE Project seeks to help bring hope and healing to wounded warriors, first responders, veterans, their families as well as to children, teens and adults who have been abused using horses, most of which have been rescued. The HOPE Project provides free Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, Therapeutic Riding, pastoral counseling and resources to those who have suffered trauma and may be battling PTSD.



PTSD/TBI Education & Support

Pastoral Counseling

Battlebuddy Support Groups

Group Functions & Retreats

Workshops on : Resiliency,

Teambuilding, Leadership, & More

Volunteer Opportunities

HOPE Chapel Services


Service Area:
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)

IAVA’s mission is to connect, unite, and empower post-9/11 veterans.

Our Core Values
Mission First
Integrity Always
Everyone Is Welcome
Respect Must Be Paid
Lead in Service
Attitude + Effort = Victory
Make the Juice Worth the Squeeze
We Are the Changemakers
Keep It Fun (Don’t Be an Asshole)
Think of the Children
Win the Day

Quick Reaction Force – A concierge veteran empowerment program helping veterans navigate an often complex road map to quality free services.

The Vote Hub – Voting is important! Regardless of political views, it is your duty to vote. The Vote Hub is a resource to help you find registration information for your state and your local polling location.

Advocacy – IAVA fights and wins battles for the post 9/11 generation of veterans. IAVA gets results. Our members tell us what’s important, and we engage policy makers and the media to bring about positive change.

Big 6 – IAVA’s members have identified 6 priority issues that matter most to them (combat suicide, burn pits & toxic exposures, modernize VA, women veterans, alternative therapies, and education benefits)

Take Action – IAVA cannot do our work without your help. Please let your representatives know how important these issues are to you and to the veteran community.

Policy Agenda – IAVA has recommended specific policy priorities to address the issues that matter most to post-9/11 veterans.


Service Area:
Music For Veterans

About Us
Many servicemen & women suffer physical and emotional injuries or the effects of Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) that may lead to problems such as broken families, drug addiction, depression, homelessness, and suicide…

But even if Veterans are not facing such issues, they can experience a healthy environment of camaraderie at our weekly music sessions, socializing and building friendships with fellow Veterans through music.

The program also allows Veterans to build confidence and demonstrate the skills they’ve developed through live performances throughout the community. We partner with the VA, VFWs, American Legions, local sports teams, and non-profits who invite us to participate in events and fundraisers.

Many Vets are reluctant to seek help because they worry about the “stigma” of PTSD following them throughout their lives, making it difficult to find a job and provide for their families.

Veterans freely participate in the Music for Veterans because it’s totally confidential and no records are kept on their participation in our program.

Our Services
Free weekly group music sessions are available to all Veterans and Military Personnel. If a participant can’t afford an instrument, one is provided. If you don’t play, we teach you.


Service Area:
REBOOT Recovery


REBOOT is mobilizing the largest peer-led response to
trauma and suicide ever built – and you’re part of it.
Why is REBOOT necessary?

The truth is that the traditional approaches to mental healthcare aren’t working quickly enough.

There simply aren’t enough providers to meet the demand and people are dying while they wait.

That’s why REBOOT exists to help people overcome trauma through our faith-based, peer-led programs.

More than 18,000 people have already embrace a brighter future. But our work is far from done! By 2025, we aim to have had than 50,000 people attend a REBOOT course.

Will you join us?

How REBOOT works:

REBOOT has developed a proven system that is peer-led, faith based and outcomes driven. Our model gets to the root cause of suicide which is trauma and here’s how it works:

REBOOT groups meet one night per week for 12 weeks
Meals and childcare are provided to remove barriers
Spouses and caregivers are encouraged to attend
Graduates continue into our extensive aftercare program.
REBOOT Combat Recovery helps veterans, active-duty military, and their families achieve breakthrough in their battle against service-related trauma.


Shields & Stripes


We believe that First Responders and Veterans are the true American heroes, and when they receive a mental injury, they should be provided the top-tier rehabilitation program to get them back on track.


Shields and Stripes provides first line defenders the opportunity to heal visible and non-visible wounds, helping those we need the most to live meaningful lives in service to our communities.


Shields and Stripes are bringing Special Operations resilience experience to care for our first-line defenders. Our innovative solution treats a sub-population suffering in silence to increased levels of mental health issues. Additionally, Shields and Stripes encourages help-seeking culture change among the service members, veterans, and first responder community. Our compassion and determination decreases negative perceptions, minimizes bias and eliminates discrimination against those isolated and in pain so they don’t get left behind.


Service Area:
Stand in Balance

Founded by psychologist and psychoanalyst Dr. Vallerie Coleman, Stand InBalance has been providing quality Equine Assisted Growth, Learning, and Psychotherapy since 2007.

After experiencing the powerful and profound changes that can occur through partnership with horses, Dr. Val transitioned from her private practice in Santa Monica to developing the Stand InBalance Ranch in Westlake Village, CA.
Dedicated to the well-being of both humans and equines

Stand InBalance provides a range of services, from psychotherapy for individuals, couples and families to leadership and teambuilding retreats for organizations. Our professionals use their comprehensive expertise and experience to create dynamic programs that address a range of challenges and goals. Stand InBalance also provides services for treatment and recovery centers, veterans and other community groups, as well as continuing education opportunities for mental health professionals, growth and learning workshops for public and private groups, equine assisted life coaching.

We believe that partnering with equines in a serene, healing environment offers humans a unique opportunity to connect with and develop the best parts of themselves. Our invaluable team of Equine Facilitators come from a variety of backgrounds, rescued or rehomed to find their perfect place in the Stand InBalance herd. Each one helps people in their own special way as they bring their natural “horsenality” & “donkenality” to relating and connecting with humans.

Our unparalleled, multi-disciplinary staff is comprised of professionals who are passionate about the natural wisdom of horses and their ability to promote human growth and change. All team members integrate their certifications in mental health and equine assisted experiential learning with the belief that deep self-understanding, and emotional intelligence are key components of happy, successful lives, relationships, and organizations.


Service Area:
Valor Healing Farms

Military Valor Community Gardens
To provide access to learning about gardening, healthy food options, sense of purpose and camaraderie working together as a community. Hopefully, VHF will have their own healing land space in Ojai to offer initial learning and exploring sustainable gardening and ecotherapy. It is a vision to build community gardens where military and veterans members reside in order to provide this healthy food option as well as wellness and therapeutic experience. Potential sites will be assessed, evaluated and developed with partnerships and collaboration with community and private agencies. Projected goal would be to build one Community Garden per year with ongoing maintenance and support. Possible sites: Ventura County Naval Base, Ventura Vet Center, Community College Veteran Resource Centers, and various veteran residential community centers/homes.

Valor Healing Farms is excited, honored and grateful for this amazing opportunity to have our own Community Victory Garden at The Taft Garden in Ojai. CEF/Taft Gardens is very excited to collaborate with Valor Healing Farms to host a Healing Garden for the community they serve. Look forward to updates and opportunities to donate to this project in the coming year.

Animal Assisted Therapy
Experience an opportunity participating in “Gaining Ground” Equine Retreats. Equine Assisted Learning is a powerful experiential modality exploring and developing healthy relationships and connection to self and others through the guidance and wisdom of horses along with a licensed therapist. Currently, the program will be offered as half/full day retreats. No horse experience necessary, all horse activities are on the ground. Horses offer metaphorical learning, mirroring the human body language and feelings of the participant. Sessions are solution oriented in order for the client to discover the best solutions for themselves. In these sessions, the benefits can include learning new coping strategies, enhancing mental health, wellness and life skills through the relationship with the horse.

This program will also incorporate mindfulness ecotherapy and “Chart Your Change” a Vision Board modality exploring one’s life path. Participation size will be limited. Individual and couple sessions to be announced in the future.

Our horse herd, Gunter, Phoebe and Titus live with their owners: Daniel and Lydia Ruark who have graciously opened up their ranch and horses to heal and serve our program. VHF is truly grateful.


Service Area:
War Horses for Veterans

War Horses for Veterans, Inc. is a unique program that has had great success in helping veterans and active military personnel transition from combat to civilian life through the use of horse-related activities. Founded in part by a former soldier, we have firsthand insight into what is required in order to make this transition. Please review our programs below for qualification and enrollment information.



Service Area: