When someone in the military says “I’ve got your six,”, you should be comforted by the fact that the person saying it has got your back. Thanks to the Pups4Patriots program, even more veterans are now living with a battle buddy who will forever “have their six.”
Four veterans from across the country were the latest to graduate from the Pups4Patriots program, which provides free, specially trained service dogs, including rescues, to veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injury.
- Tony served in the U.S. Army as a vehicle mechanic and a Black Hawk pilot for more than a decade before medically retiring in 2014. He currently lives in Oklahoma, where he and his new service dog, Ringo, have formed an unbreakable bond since graduating from the program.
“Ringo has brought a level of social ease back to my life I wasn’t sure I would have again,” Tony told American Humane. “Having him with me draws people to me, but also causes others to keep their distance and respect my personal space. Even in crowds, lines, etc., having Ringo with me puts me at ease.”
- Dan served in the U.S. Navy for three years in active duty and for three more in the reserve. He lives in California and was paired with Ginger, a female German Shepherd. Dan enjoyed the training sessions with his new service dog, which allowed him to both learn the ropes and make lasting connections with the other veterans in training with him.
“We were training our dogs to be settled for extended time while us veterans built a bond with each other that exists a lifetime,” he said. “The program builds a bedrock bond between our dogs with focused service skills and, for us handlers, it also builds personal relationships between veterans.”
- Raul served in the U.S. Navy for 20 years of sea duty, including 11 total deployments. He now lives in California with his service dog Sunny, a male Labrador Retriever.
“The training of my companion Sunny has given me the tools to better understand what triggers my PTSD by re-directing my attention to Sunny,” said Raul. “I now look forward to my daily activities and the time I spend with my loyal companion. He has taught me one life lesson in particular—patience and control of my emotions, especially in a public setting.”
American Humane has provided service dogs and training to more than 200 veterans across the country, including another recent duo, Bobby and his service dog, Kai. These new battle buddies were generously sponsored by the company Window World and introduced at the company’s conference in Phoenix in early August.
“Our Pups4Patriots program has saved countless lives by putting healing leashes into the hands of veterans in need across the country,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, American Humane president and CEO. “Our mission wouldn’t be possible without the generous help of companies like Window World, whose charitable grant will help us continue the life-saving work of gifting brave veterans with the best medicine of all – unconditional love and support from the new furry best friends they so richly deserve.”
Service dogs are an invaluable asset to veterans who have sustained trauma such as post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injuries. There are, however, obstacles to receiving one. It can also be a difficult and time-consuming process, which American Humane has streamlined so that veterans are given service dogs at no charge in a timely and efficient manner.
The Pups4Patriots program is made possible through the generous support of donors. To learn more, and to help fund more stories like these, visit www.AmericanHumane.org/military.
“I know that there is another set of eyes keeping watch,” Tony said. “As we said in the military, he’s my battle buddy. In these recent few months, Ringo’s companionship has help sustain me through extremely trying emotional times and kept me from falling into depression. I can’t express my gratitude enough.”