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Ft. Hood

TREAT participates in Military Child Festival

July 22, 2009

STEPHENVILLE, TEXAS—The Tarleton Equine Assisted Therapy (TREAT) program recently gave a group of military kids a treat and was rewarded with a treat of its own.

Peggy Stamper, administrator of Child, Youth and School Services at Fort Hood, presented Tarleton State University with a commemorative T-shirt last week that was designed by a military child from Fort Hood as part of the 2009 National Month of the Military Child Festival held April 4 at Hood Stadium.

The TREAT program, led by Dr. David Snyder, professor of animal sciences at Tarleton, packed up its horses and took a trip to Fort Hood to attend the festival.

“The highlight of the Fest for the past several years has been the attraction offered by Dr. Snyder’s team,” Stamper said “They come with horses, petting zoo animals, even a longhorn steer one year. Families have a super time on the horse rides and with the animals.”

Fort Hood holds the annual festival, which provides free fun, food and entertainment for military children and their families. This year’s theme was “What it Means to be a Military Child.”

In February 1983, Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger established April as the Month of the Military Child, underscoring the importance of military children and their role in military families.

“Today, our military families are under more pressure and endure more stress than ever before from continuing separations and the constant worry over the safety of their soldiers,” Stamper said. “The least we can do to recognize them is give them a day to relax and enjoy some camaraderie and carefree fun.”

Senior animal science major Bonnie Cox and junior animal science major Kimberly Cheever were among the Tarleton students who attended the festival.

“It was fun,” Cox said of the festival. “I grew up riding horses and most of these kids have never even seen a horse. It is so neat to put someone on a horse who has never been on one. It’s great to see their faces.”

Cheever agreed, “It was busy, but some of these kids look forward to this and come back year after year to see the horses. It feels good to be a part of that.”

According to Stamper, the festival has grown during the last few years and approximately 13,000 attended this year’s event.

“Dr. Snyder and his crew are so kind and gracious, so good with the kids and the adults,” Stamper said. “They come in quietly with no demands at all, and they work hard all day long, only to pack up and quietly depart with no expectation of reward.

“Families go away happy and they talk about it for months afterward, as well as months in advance of the next Fest. It means a great deal to Army families that these generous folks give them such a super time in honor of the National Month of the Military Child.”