GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — For Air Force Veteran Ashley Bonner, graduating from East Carolina University on Friday was a day she said she would never forget.
“It’s such a life-changing event,” said Bonner. “It is something that you worked so hard for so long and for so many years, and it finally happens.
After serving in the military, she said she wanted to make a career helping others deal with something she experienced when she returned home — post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Every day, we have an average of 22 veterans a day that commit suicide,” said Bonner. “That’s 22 way too much.”
Bonner was a medic in the Air Force, and she was deployed to Turkey, Guam and Paraguay.
Last year, she started a program for veterans at Rocking Horse Ranch in Greenville.
Bonner was paired up with a horse named Cisco that she said changed her life.
“The depression, the anger (and) the anxiety is no longer there,” said Bonner.
Her goal is to help veterans meet horses like Cisco and get relief from PTSD.
“Hopefully, I will be working at Rocking Horse Ranch,” said Bonner. “We are working on getting a grant approved to where I’ll be the veteran outreach coordinator.”
Bonner said without East Carolina, she wouldn’t have been able to achieve her dream.
After years of waiting, she is officially a Pirate alumna.
“It’s amazing,” said Bonner. “It’s emotional, it’s just wonderful.”