Polk County Conservation is pleased to announce that Jester Park Equestrian Center’s (JPEC) Horses Helping Heroes program (H3) was awarded the US Department of Veteran’s Affairs Adaptive Sports Program for Disabled Veterans and Disabled Members of the Armed Forces Grant in the amount of $107,000.
The Horses Helping Heroes program is an equine-assisted therapy program facilitated by Jester Park Equestrian Center in partnership with the Veterans Affairs Central Iowa Health Care System. The program’s mission is to build a Veteran’s confidence through a relationship with the horse by creating opportunities to develop skills that can be used in their daily life.
To date, the program has helped over 300 Veterans from the VA Domiciliary collaborate with horses to identify relationships, practice communication, manage challenges and recognize peace. This grant will help the Horses Helping Heroes program expand to meet the needs of the many Veterans who are outpatients in the region and is designed to address trauma and other mental health needs, including substance abuse, depression and improving family relationships.
VA Recreation Therapist Megan Trimble shared the following statement expressing her excitement. “We are so thankful for being considered and awarded this grant, giving us the opportunity to reach Veterans on an inpatient and outpatient basis. Past participating Veterans have shared a quote we use in the session that sums up the positive impact they have felt; ‘There are things that the horse did for me that a human couldn’t have done. - Buck Brannaman.’ I cannot contain my excitement to be able to expand the JPEC partnership and the H3 program to outpatient Veterans and continue assisting them through an array of mental health challenges! I would like to express an insurmountable amount of thanks to everyone involved within the Horses Helping Heroes Equine Assisted Therapy program, to include Sierra and the whole Jester Park staff, VA staff, and all the volunteers and donors that keep this amazing program running.”
In closing, Equestrian Center Manager Claudia Starr adds, “We are so grateful to everyone who helped us secure this grant. There is nothing more gratifying than knowing the peace that our service men and women find through interacting with horses. Our EAGALA certified professional Sierra Carmichael, along with VA Recreational Therapist Megan Trimble and our equine therapists, are helping Veterans find positive ways to navigate the many challenges they face.”
About the Jester Park Equestrian Center: Jester Park Equestrian Center’s mission is to be a community resource fostering education, outdoor recreation, and wellness with horses. The Center is located on the southwest side of Saylorville Lake and is owned and managed by Polk County Conservation. Jester Park, Granger, Iowa 50109; Phone: (515) 323-5300; FAX: (515) 323-5354.
About the VA Central IA Health Care System: The VA Central Iowa Health Care System operates a Veterans Health Administration medical facility in Des Moines, with Community Based Outpatient Clinics in Mason City, Fort Dodge, Knoxville, Marshalltown and Carroll. The medical center provides acute and specialized medical and surgical services, residential outpatient treatment programs in substance abuse and post-traumatic stress and a full range of mental health and long-term care services, as well as sub-acute and restorative rehabilitation services and a domiciliary.
Equestrian Center Manager