Hometown Heroes - Chris Krossing

Published: Jul. 20, 2023 at 5:21 AM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - A Lake Charles native is using animal therapy to relieve the pain of war. The loss of Donna East Kiernan’s husband in the Iraq war is helping others deal with their grief.

“About six years after his death, I was dealing with so much depression that I decided to share the animals I had with the other surviving families,” said Kiernan.

We first met her in 2007, at the funeral of her husband Chris. He was killed in Baghdad by enemy fire during his second tour of duty. Val East, Donna’s brother, was the first person she called after she learned the news.

“She decided that she wanted to serve the families of the fallen soldiers,” said East. “We always remember the fallen soldiers but a lot of people forget the families. So twice a year, she holds this.”

A “Survivor Kids Day” for children of those killed in battle is held by the Chris Krossing Foundation at Donna’s Seguin, Texas ranch.

“We work with them and the horses,” said Kiernan. “It’s really amazing what equines bring out in people because they saved me.”

East loves the reaction from the families.

“Those smiling faces and their laughter. They’re running around carefree. It helps them a lot.”

Up to 300 people from across the nation and here in southwest Louisiana attend.

“Some of the surviving kids have been coming here for nine years and some of the newer families coming in for Survivor Day, it’s not combat-related deaths, it’s suicide-related deaths,” said Kiernan.

It’s a sobering reminder of the lingering effects of war.

The second annual Boudin Invitational golf tournament to benefit the Chris Krossing Foundation will be held July 29 and 30, 2023 in Lake Charles. Teams and sponsors can register at Mallard Golf Club.

You can email Val East for more information: valeast@ymail.com