Tester Announces More Than $158,000 in Adaptive Sports Grants for Disabled Veterans in Montana

VA awards $88,500 to Horses Spirits Healing, Inc. in Billings and $70,000 to DREAM Adaptive Recreation, Inc. in Whitefish

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today announced $158,500 has been awarded by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to help disabled veterans in Montana improve their independence, well-being, and quality of life through adaptive sports and therapeutic arts programs in Billings and Whitefish.

“Too many of our nation’s men and women in uniform return home with seen and unseen wounds of war, and we have a duty to ensure they are connected with every avenue possible for treatment and rehabilitation,” said Tester. “These grants will help provide veterans with the opportunity to pursue alternative therapies that work for them closer to home and improve their quality of life.”

Funding is provided under VA’s Adaptive Sports Grant Program, which provides grants across the country to support veterans’ physical and mental health. Of the total $158,500, $88,500 has been awarded to Horses Spirits Healing, Inc., a nonprofit organization outside of Billings that specializes in equine therapy for veterans. $70,000 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.

“Horses Spirits Healing appreciates the confidence placed in us by VA Adaptive Sports through this grant—the sixth consecutive one we’ve received,” said Horses Spirits Healing co-founder Barb Skelton. “This funding allows us to continue to build and deliver the programs our veterans utilize to improve and change their lives. It works because of the support from our elected officials, the referrals, and from local VA Clinic staff. The dedicated veterans who participate, the steady hands of our staff, and support from our local and regional donors keeps us moving forward. It is truly a team effort, and we thank Senator Tester for his efforts.”

“We are thrilled to receive another VA Adaptive Sports Grant for 2021-2022,” said DREAM Adaptive Recreation Executive Director Julie Tickle. “This critical funding allows us to facilitate outdoor recreation-based programs, lessons, and opportunities for veterans and members of the armed forces in Montana. We hope our programs encourage veterans to fully live their lives post injury or illness, and we look forward to working with the Kalispell Vet Center and others to maximize the impact in our community.”

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and Chairman of the Senate 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 102 grants to national, regional, and community programs across the country that provide these services.