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U.S. House Approves Funds for Veterans' Equine Therapy

Amendment boosts funding by $5 million.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved June 8 an amendment that would increase funds by $5 million for equine programs that assist military veterans in dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Submitted by Kentucky Republican Rep. Andy Barr, the amendment is part of H.R. 5895, the FY 2019 Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act. Specifically, the Barr Amendment directs appropriators to "transfer $5 million from the VA's Health Administration's (VHA) Medical Community Care Account to the Medical Services Account for the explicit use for the VA's Adaptive Sports Grant (ASG) program, equine assisted therapy." The American Horse Council sent a letter of support June 4 to House Rules Committee Chairman Rep. Pete Sessions urging the committee to rule the Barr Amendment "in order" so that it could be adopted on the House floor.

Congress has already endorsed measures that increased funds for Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies (EAAT) within the FY 2018 omnibus. According to a clinical study conducted in conjunction with Columbia University, an estimated 14-30% of U.S. veterans suffer from PTSD and EAAT has shown encouraging results in mitigating PTSD's debilitating effects. 

The U.S. horse industry employs nearly one million Americans and contributes $122 billion to Gross Domestic Product (GDP). EAAT programs not only provide valuable services for U.S. veterans, but the operations also support jobs for a growing number of working Americans, and "second careers" for horses who would otherwise retire from racing or other working roles. According to a 2017 economic impact study, EAAT supports more than 6,700 jobs and generates $311.7 million in annual revenues in the U.S.

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