Veteran’s Cash helps fund R.O.C.K. Horses for Heroes Program - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Veteran’s Cash helps fund R.O.C.K. Horses for Heroes Program

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A scratch off lottery ticket is helping fund a Horses for Heroes program, aiding in the transition back to civilian life.

At the Ride On Center for Kids it's about the horses and what they can bring out in people. Located just outside of Georgetown is a place that's doing its small part to help veterans overcome traumas of military service.

The R.O.C.K. Horses for Heroes Program allows vets to work with horses, ride 'em, walk 'em, just be around 'em.

Scott Sjule is a volunteer and a veteran. Nancy O'Meara Krenek runs the place. Both say the horses offer vets a chance to reconnect with life.

"Programs like this set an example. But what they really do is they create a self-discovering mechanism. The horse is the mirror. It gives feedback," said Sjule. "The disconnection that we see with out returning vets, how to be a dad, a husband. They have a tendency to isolate themselves and they shrink their sphere of where they live because they can control it."

"A lot of these folks stay locked up in their house. They disconnect and what we see is for whatever reason this is an appealing environment for them to step out and begin participation. Participation is the first step in healing and when they come out and connect with this community then they connect in other ways," said Krenek.

About 20 vets are in the program. They come Thursday nights, hang with the horses and have a meal if they want. There are no demands on the vets here.

"We do this for our vets at no charge. So they don't have the pressure of figuring out how to pay for this service when they come out," said Krenek.

The Ride On Center doesn't have to shoulder the costs either, otherwise the program probably wouldn't exist.

The money comes from "Veteran's Cash" ticket sales. Since the veteran's cash stated in 2009 it has raised more then $20 million, which the Texas Veterans Commission dispenses to local organizations across the state. To date they've made 86 grants to 70 organizations like the Ride On Center.

"It's an opportunity for these organizations to hone in on the needs of vets in their communities. The needs of vets are different in west Texas then the needs of vets in Houston," said Sarah Tillman of Fund for Veteran's Assistance.

More then 90,000 vets and their families have been touched by "Veteran's Cash" grants including those who show up every Thursday evening outside Georgetown to be with the horses and each other.

"We're not the answer, we're just a little step to get a catalyst to get them going again and it works amazing or I wouldn't have been doing it for the last seven years," said Krenek.

Veteran's Cash is a $2 dollar scratch-off and you can get them at most places that sell lottery tickets.

For more information about the R.O.C.K. Ride On Center's program for heroes click here.

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