K9s For Warriors
K9s For Warriors
For U.S. Army SPC Greg Wells and many others like him, returning home from tours overseas often comes with unforeseen difficulties.
“The unfortunate, staggering fact is, every day 22 veterans returning from combat take their own lives,” said Rory Diamond, Executive Director at K9s For Warriors.
Shari Duval, President and Founder of K9s For Warriors learned about the difficult transition that combat veterans face firsthand when his son returned from two tours in Iraq as a contractor. His struggles with PTSD inspired Duval to found K9s For Warriors, based in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
Since 2011, the organization has helped match and train more than 184 combat veterans with service dogs, empowering them to return to civilian life with dignity and independence. Even better, the organization’s dogs are all recruited and adopted from shelters before being trained to become service dogs.
" “Since returning home I've been able to venture out into the world more""
This spring, veteran Greg Wells was one of several teams to graduate the K9s For Warriors program before returning to his home in Springfield, Mo., with his service dog, Jaxson. Recently Greg shared an update on his life with Jaxson.
“Since returning home I’ve been able to venture out into the world more,” he said. “Not like a normal person without PTSD, but more nonetheless.”
“I’m more confident in my surroundings, knowing how to use the dog to separate myself from a situation or confined area. I am more active and go on walks and am working towards being comfortable enough to go to a gym.
“And most of all, I’m more positive around my family, whereas before I was angry and grumpy all the time. Jaxson has given me so much in such a short time – it’s hard to describe it all.”
So many of our honorable men and women who have served in combat return home bearing an intolerable burden. When they need support the most, the only thing both strong enough to support them and gentle enough to ease their pain is their dog. These dogs, who love them absolutely and unconditionally, are the critical line of salvation these heroes deserve.
In 2014, thanks to your support during the Helping Heroes campaign, the Petco Foundation awarded K9s For Warriors a $75,000 to help continue its lifesaving work for veterans like Greg. Thank you for making stories like these possible.