Tester Announces More Than $100,000 in Adaptive Sports for Disabled Veterans in Montana

VA awards $75,000 to Horses Sprit Healing, Inc. in Billings and $28,035 to DREAM Adaptive Recreation, Inc. in Whitefish

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today announced more than $103,000 has been awarded to help disabled veterans in Montana improve their independence, well-being, and quality of life through adaptive sports and therapeutic arts programs.

This funding comes from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Adaptive Sports Grant Program, which provides grants across the country to support veteran mental health. Of the total, $75,000 has been awarded to Horses Spirit Healing, Inc., a nonprofit organization outside of Billings that specializes in equine therapy for veterans. $28,035 has been awarded to Disabled Recreation Environmental Access Movement (DREAM) Adaptive Recreation, Inc. in Whitefish, an organization that helps enhance the quality of life of individuals with disabilities by providing year-round outdoor adaptive recreational opportunities.

“Too many of our nation’s veterans return home from war with seen and unseen wounds, and we owe it to them to open every avenue possible for treatment and rehabilitation,” Tester said. “These grants will allow us to live up to the promises we made to the brave men and women who served, by giving veterans the opportunity to pursue alternative therapies that work for them closer to home.”

“As someone who has been raised around horses all my life, I know firsthand the value and healing power that equestrian therapy can have on a veteran,” said Horses Spirit Healing co-founder Barbara Skelton. “At Horses Spirits Healing, we help disabled veterans transition back to civilian life after their military service find the ability to heal through equine therapy. I thank Senator Tester for his continued advocacy and unyielding commitment to connecting veterans in Montana with the therapy they need.”

“We are thrilled to receive another VA Adaptive Sports Grant award for 2019-2020,” said DREAM Adaptive Recreation Executive Director Julie Tickle. “The VA Adaptive Sports Grant has been critical in helping us expand our services to Montana Veterans. Outdoor recreation provides more than just physical health benefits— it provides an opportunity for veterans to reintegrate into the larger community, build relationships, and focus on mental and emotional well-being. We hope our programs encourage veterans to fully live their lives post injury or illness. It’s an honor to provide our services to such a deserving population.”

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and Ranking Member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Tester has continuously fought to increase funding for adaptive recreation opportunities for disabled veterans. Earlier this year, he sent letters of support to VA, urging the Department to award these critical funds to support Montana’s veteran population. VA awarded 126 grants to national, regional, and community programs across the country that provide these services.