Press Release: VA awards significant funding to Eagala Military Designated programs


VA provides $637,700 for Equine-Assisted Mental Health Services to Veterans and Service Members through Eagala Military Services Designated Programs across the United States

SANTAQUIN, Utah, Nov. 5, 2019/PRNewswire/–

Eagala will receive $637,700 to fund services that have been shown to improve the mental and emotional health of veterans and service members across the United States. This funding, provided by the VA Adaptive Sport Grant (ASG), will serve veterans and Military service members from October 2019-September 2020 through equine-assisted psychotherapy–where horses are involved in focused, professional clinical interventions to address trauma and other mental health needs, including substance abuse, depression and improving family relationships.

Eagala received one of the largest awards in recent history with just under half of the $1.5 million specifically designated for equine-assisted mental health within the VA ASG’s full budget. The organization’s recent grant funding from the VA has nearly tripled from last year’s inaugural funding thanks in part to the program evaluation clinical outcomes showing extremely positive results.The funding will serve veteran and military individuals, couples or groups in partnership with Eagala’s national network of Military Designated Programs.

Eagala Military Designated programs have facilitation teams of licensed mental health professionals and certified equine professionals who work in partnership with horses to provide services. The Eagala Military Designation was created as a way of setting and maintaining the standard of clinical training and cultural competence required to effectively work with military populations in a mental health setting. There are currently 19 programs in the US that have earned the Eagala Military Designation, and CEO Lynn Thomas expects that number to grow rapidly. “Eagala is proud to be the only equine-assisted mental health organization in the industry to put forth and maintain these critically important clinical and cultural competence standards,” Thomas said. “This grant will enable us to grow our programs providing this effective approach serving veterans.”

Halina Kowalski, Eagala Military Services Director, led the grant effort and will oversee its management and coordinate collective outcome-based projects in collaboration with Eagala Military Services programs. According to Kowalski, “Very early preliminary program evaluation outcomes from last year’s ASG funded programming are showing that veterans are experiencing a clinically meaningful reduction of PTSD symptoms and their quality of life is significantly increasing as well. We are expecting to see this trend continue and we have plans for future research projects and publication. ”

In the Eagala Model, all work is done in relationship with horses exclusively on the ground. It is a specific mental health treatment protocol incorporating horses provided by an Eagala Certified team of mental health professional and equine specialist. It is effective because it embraces the science that humans learn best by doing. The model prescribes a hands-on approach where veterans are given the space to project and analyze their situations, make connections, and find their own solutions. How do horses help the process? Horses are a prey animal, and as a result, they are hyper-sensitive to their environment, something that veterans relate to. As a result of their sensitivity, horses respond in ways that provide feedback to the veterans of relationships in their lives, whether it be with others, their environment, or themselves. Horses provide an emotionally safe way to work through and strengthen these relationships.

It takes more money…

We had a great time at the first McKay Creek Cowboy Gathering! The team at HORSES on the Ranch wants to thank everyone who joined us, supported us, and shared the event in any way… a special shout out to Mary and Roy at Wine Down Ranch.

We raised enough money to feed our equine team through the winter, and we began (in a BIG way) to grow our healing community. While that is critically important, and must happen before we can serve people, it isn’t actually serving those who need our work. We have a growing list of people wanting to heal and grow and work with our team. Can you help us make that next step? End of year is coming, and all donations made to HORSES on the Ranch are tax deductible. See the link to our fundly campaign above, or contact us directly.

What do you do?

Sharing this post from Eagala program Tailwind Therapy, in Clovis, California. The best explanation I’ve seen….

The Shift

Everyone I know is in some sort of flux. Transition appears to be the new normal. I’m settling into my temporary digs, grateful for the opportunity to spend the winter able to focus on program development, and not on personal survival. A storm blew in this evening, witnessed by me from a rocking chair on the deck. Wind chimes and rain on the tin roof offered soundtrack for my thoughts to churn by. Grateful for the moment’s rest, preparing, in some way, for a yet undetermined date for the next move. Reflecting on the truth that 2 weeks ago I could not have imagined sitting here, rocking while the wind carries the summer into the fall…

Likewise, two weeks ago I could not have imagined the growth of this beloved organization, H.O.R.S.E.S. on the Ranch. A wild series of little moments later, we have a beautiful video, an active fundraising campaign, an upcoming tv interview, a second location, and enough community support to buy feed and start a series of sessions for special needs kids. We have significant interest from Veterans organizations, counseling centers, health care providers and multiple individuals in creating plans and programs to meet unique needs.

We are grateful for the response, grateful for the interest, and overwhelmingly grateful for the support of our communities. We have received nearly $2500 (& a two-horse trailer!) in the first week. Help us continue the journey, help us build momentum.

Donate here:

Believe in the possibilities!

We do ❤

and so it begins….

a word from the Director

(fair warning – this one is personal)

It’s 11pm, the night before our first session. I feel all kinds of emotions, and the wheels are certainly spinning in my mind. Some of the young women we will hold space for tomorrow were students when I worked in the schools. Some remember. Some may not. Some probably know my own kids. Some certainly know others, in this small, rural community, who are struggling. Some most likely know a few who lost the fight. Maybe some of them know those who have met the challenge and overcome the demon that is addiction. I hope they do. It helps to know that others have walked the path before, and made it out. And others have. There is a way. Perhaps many ways…

My heart is full tonight, too, for a dear friend whose adult child is right now in a coma from an overdose. She’s waiting, waiting, while they slowly warm his body and take away medication that has been keeping his heart working, waiting to see if his body will regain the ability to regulate itself and live. Waiting… For a decade, this parent has feared “the call”. Two days ago, it came. As long as I have known her, she has met that fear with an absolute fierceness and determination to create change in this world. Her mission (my words) as I watch her work, is to LOVE SO BIG, and so unquestioningly, that she wipes out the trauma and isolation that is leaving such emptiness in its wake. I hurt for her.

And I think of the other mamas I know who have faced this same fear. Who have fought with as much love and light and hope as they could summon. I know too many who fought with everything they had, and yet the call came… And I wonder how much love it will take to finally tip the scales, and beat back these demons that are stealing our kids…

But this week I also caught wind of a celebration of sorts. Or at least I was celebrating when I saw the pictures and read the posts. (Sometimes, it seems, that social media shares the good stuff too.) I saw photographs of a couple of young men from this little town, all grown up, and fishing. Just fishing. But also so much more… Young men who were once among those for whom we feared that call would come. But it didn’t. “Men being men” the post read, “like family”. Love. I’m holding onto this…

Love each other. Love fiercely. Love fearlessly. Like my friend the mama is loving right now, like her community is loving right along side of her. Like communities have also loved along side the mamas (and daddies) who have faced the unimaginable.

Tomorrow it begins…. And I know Love will be there.