During the month of June, we hosted our second global outreach event of the year by supporting K9s for Warriors (www.k9sforwarriors.org), the nation’s largest provider of service dogs to disabled veterans,. The mission of K9s for Warriors is to end veteran suicide and allow them to have a life of dignity and independence. They rescue and train shelter dogs to be paired as service dogs for Veterans with service-related Post-Traumatic Stress, Traumatic Brain Injuries, and Military Sexual Trauma.
K9s for Warriors started in 2011 and has grown exponentially! Headquartered in Ponte Vedra, Florida, they can house and train up to 70 dogs that have been rescued from kill shelters from across the nation. In 2018, they also opened the Gold Family Campus outside of Gainesville, Florida to provide more in-house training between veterans and their new service dogs. This year, they plan to finish their PetCo Foundation K9 Center in San Antonio, Texas, to function as a hub for the southwestern United States. At this San Antonio location, they will have the capability to screen and train 30 dogs before sending them to their Florida headquarters for pairing with their Veteran. The organization is also working towards breaking ground in Florida to create the world’s largest training center for future service dogs. All of these locations give both a Veteran and a dog a second chance on life.
An estimated 20 Veterans die daily due from suicide. Most of these individuals have been prescribed medication and talk therapy without considerable results in combatting their post-traumatic stress symptoms. Veterans participating in the K9s for Warriors program usually take 10 to 14 different prescriptions daily, but 92% of them reduce their daily medication intake after training with their service dog, leading to reduced symptoms.
Each month, a group of up to 12 Veterans arrive at the K9s for Warriors headquarters for a three-week, in-house training, at no cost. These Veterans are provided with a trained service dog, housing, meals, equipment, veterinary care, and 120 hours of training with their new service dog in a family atmosphere. The dogs are already trained when the veterans arrive, but this time-period allows the veteran to bond with their new partner and as they both learn to function as a team.
Earlier this year, K9s for Warriors provided over 660 veterans with a service dog changing their lives for the better.
As always, our members went above and beyond to support this wonderful organization:
-With limited ability to meet in person, Stroller Warriors® Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, developed a creative way to dedicate miles— the 808 Challenge (808 is the area code for Kaneohe Bay). The Chapter challenged their members to dedicate 808 miles for K9s for Warriors using “#SWsupportsK9FW.” In only 20 days, members met their goal collectively dedicating 834.55 miles!
-Stroller Warriors Lackland, Texas, hosted a month-long event supporting K9s for Warriors. Using the hashtag “#swsupportsK9FW,” their chapter dedicated 83 miles throughout June and made other contributions to the K9s for Warrions. While planning their community outreach event, they realized K9s for Warriors was in the process of building a new San Antonio training facility. Chapter leadersreached out offering their support. After corresponding with the San Antonio campus director, the Chapter hosted a dog toy making event at a local restaurant, and the restaurant also donated a portion of their monthly profits to K9s for Warriors. Members enjoyed lunch while the mini warriors played and made 12 braided toys for the service dogs. Chapter members also collected household items used for enrichment activities (various sized boxes, paper towel rolls, etc). These items were delivered directly to the training facility and Chapter members received a “hard hat” tour at the conclusion of its month-long event.
-Stroller Warrior Iwakuni, Japan, participated in a four day mile dedication event. They started on June 27th, which is National PTSD Awareness Day, and ended it on June 30th with a run followed by a HITT workout. During these four days, fourteen Chapter members collectively dedicated 60.43 miles.
-Stroller Warrior Okinawa, Japan, donated blankets and dog-bones from the K9s for Warriors wish-list on Amazon and collectively dedicated 533.98 miles.
If you are interested in learning more about K9s for Warriors please visit their website at http://www.k9sforwarriors.org/.