For Army Sergeant Laurence Hudson, these are some of the words that describe him — resilient, brave, steadfast … and also, soldier, veteran, and rancher.
SOLDIER: On September 11th, 2001, Laurence’s life forever changed during the moments that the towers fell. That very day, he enlisted in the Army, drawn by a sense of duty to serve his country. In 2003, Laurence deployed to Iraq, where he provided security for Army medics while they treated the wounded in high-conflict areas. Over the course of his 15-month deployment, Laurence suffered multiple traumatic brain injuries, and he soon noticed his memory failing him.
He said, “I realized I had lost days and could not remember things I’d done or where we were in Fallujah.”
VETERAN: Once back in the States, Laurence was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and for the next several years, he participated in several programs at a polytrauma unit and PTSD clinic. Though the programs proved helpful by teaching different memory strategies, tactics to cope with injuries, and assistance with transitioning back into his community, Laurence longed for deeper connections and to find a new path for his future.
In 2007, a friend — a fellow veteran — encouraged Laurence to reach out to Semper Fi & America’s Fund, where Laurence connected with his future case manager, Teresa. Teresa and The Fund immediately offered support, introducing Laurence to The Fund’s Jinx McCain Horsemanship Program, a specially designed equine program for service members. It teaches horse care, training, and riding (including competitive riding), cattle sorting, driving and herding, ranch roping, mule packing, and backcountry trail riding.
From his home in Seattle, Laurence traveled to Wyoming for The Fund’s Double Rafter Cattle Drive and has now participated in the cattle drive every year since.
“The cattle drives are great because we are all on a mission again,” Laurence said. “We have to work together to move the herds. We’re a team.”
RANCHER: After discovering this new passion, Laurance and his family moved to a ranch in Montana, where he began raising livestock. Being in the wide-open spaces proved invaluable, making him feel safe and comfortable while Teresa’s care and support only added to making their ranch into a true home. The Fund provided Laurence with a snow blower to maintain his property during harsh winters, and because of the ranch’s remote location, Teresa sent gas cards to help alleviate the cost of travel to his medical appointments.
Alongside caring for his livestock and the ranch, Laurence loves creating new memories with his family, whether that be ice fishing, snowboarding, or watching his youngest daughter, Lauren, excel in the many sports she plays. His wife has also attended several of The Fund’s caregiver events, and his whole family participated in many virtual events that Teresa hosted throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The Fund has helped in so many ways. They have given me tools, experiences, and classes that have done wonders for my mental well-being,” Laurence said. “I am so thankful that we were connected.”
As Laurence and his family continue to create lifelong memories together, The Fund and Teresa are privileged to walk alongside them, continually inspired by the resilience, courage, and steadfast grit of this soldier, veteran, and rancher.