WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), a member of the Appropriations Committee, today applauded the announcement that the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Office of Rural Health (ORH) selected the Hershel Woody Williams VA Medical Center as a pilot site for an Agriculture Training/Behavioral Healthcare Services program. The Hershel “Woody” Williams VAMC was one of ten pilot sites selected from across the nation for the program that will be known as Veterans Affairs Farming and Recovery Mental Health Services (VA FARMS).

“We owe so much to those who have selflessly put their lives on the line so we can enjoy the many freedoms we cherish today,” Senator Capito said. “I am so proud that our very own Hershel Woody Williams VAMC in West Virginia has been chosen to be one of the few pilot sites for this important program. As we’ve already seen in West Virginia, agritherapy and other behavioral health treatments have the potential to significantly improve the health and wellbeing of our veterans. This is welcome news for West Virginia and the entire veterans community, and it will help our veterans address behavioral and mental health care needs while also preparing them for new career opportunities. I am so proud that our state has once again been chosen to serve as a model for what I hope will be many more agritherapy programs across the nation so we can better care for these brave men and women.”

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, specifically the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (MilCon-VA) Subcommittee, Senator Capito led efforts to create the pilot program and then to provide the resources to help assist wounded veterans in their recovery through agritherapy. She brought the issue to the attention of VA leaders at a budget hearing in March 2016 and authored language in the FY2017 MilCon-VA appropriations bill to establish the pilot program. In the FY2018 Omnibus Appropriations Act, Senator Capito delivered the funding to enable the VA to study the benefits of agritherapy.

The VA FARMS program is designed to allow veterans the opportunity to learn about agrarian practices. Seasonal crop production, indoor growing, bee keeping and honey production, wild harvest, Christmas trees, and soil preparation are a few of the areas the WV Department of Agriculture will be concentrating on.

To learn more details about the announcement and the project schedule, click here

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