SDSU Veterans Affairs Office receives grant for Horses for Heroes



Russ Chavez, director of Veterans Affairs at South Dakota State University, stands with several participants after a recent Horses for Heroes ride. The SDSU Veterans Affairs Office recently received a grant for the Horses for Heroes program. Joining Chavez are, from left: Maddie Kohrman; Mackenzie Krcil; Chance James; Chavez; Derek Putnam; Justin Dicks; Andy Ellis, co-adviser of Armed Forces Association and SDSU faculty member; Cory Ann Ellis; Hunter Gregerson; Eric Gednalske and Kaitlyn Meadors.

BROOKINGS, S.D. – Nov. 6, 2019 – South Dakota State University’s Veterans Affairs Office received a grant of more than $22,000 to support its Horses for Heroes program. The funds, which are from the National VA Adaptive Sports Grant Program, will be used to purchase a ramp, helmets and a paraplegic saddle, in addition, to pay for costs associated with running the program.

“We hope these purchases will create an opportunity to diversify our participants in the Horses for Heroes program,” said Connie Johnson, SDSU’s coordinator for Veterans Affairs. “Jen Eide, who manages the SDSU Equine Teaching Facility, assisted in finding the best ramp that will allow our participants to have greater ease to access to the horses. Ability to mount a horse shouldn’t be a limiting factor. We couldn’t do Horses for Heroes without Jen and her staff. They’ve been great since our office approached them regarding this collaboration opportunity three years ago.”

The Horses for Heroes program targets the veteran population, which had been strictly for SDSU students. The program has been made available to include Brookings-area veterans this year.

“We are hoping the new equipment will increase interest from the community who may feel they may not be able to participate due to mobility,” Johnson said. “We are trying to give to those who have already given to us.”

Horses for Heroes is a six-week workshop each fall semester. A ground-handling workshop on how to handle horses is planned for the spring 2020 semester, another feature provided by the grant.