We live in trying times. Political unrest threatens lives across the globe. Terrorist seek to do harm to civilians. Right here in the USA, our government is basically paralyzed in a political stalemate. On certain days, it can be hard to have much faith in humanity.
Then There Are The American Heroes Who Are Dying At An Alarming Rate
We can debate and ague the merits of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. What can not be argued is the heroism showed by the brave men and woman who serve in our military. These warriors face horrific conditions overseas – dealing with snipers, land mines, improvised explosive devices and hostile forces – just to keep us safe.
The problem is, for these American Heroes, the battle does not end when they come home. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, upwards of 20 percent of post-9/11 war veterans – 500,000 men and women – suffer from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), with symptoms ranging from traumatic flashbacks and memory problems, to hopelessness, self-destructive behavior and thoughts of suicide.
Here is the most disturbing part – Each year, about 8,000 United States military veterans take their own lives due to post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/or traumatic brain injury (TBI). That means an estimated 22 veterans are dying each and every day.
K9s For Warriors, Providing a New Leash On Life
So far this article has been a real downer, but don’t worry, that is about to turn around right now…
That is Bryan Foltz and his service dog Dell. They saved each other’s life.
K9s For Warriors is a non-profit organization that pairs specially trained service dogs rescued from shelters with veterans suffering from PTSD to help them transition back to civilian life. K9s For Warriors is literally providing a new leash on life for both the veterans and the dogs.
100% Reduction in Suicide Rate
K9s For Warriors was started in 2011 and to date, 207 warrior/canine teams have graduated from the program, and nearly 300 dogs in total have been cared for in K9s For Warriors’ kennels.
K9s For Warriors reports a 100 percent success rate in suicide prevention in graduates of the program, and 66 percent of warrior graduates report a reduction in medications. Amazingly, not a single Warrior has committed suicide – how incredible is that?
Talk about a true win-win. You have Warrior Heroes reducing their medications and not trying to commit suicide. In addition, you have shelter dogs being given a permanent home.
But wait, it gets even better…
Operation K9 Cares Will Allow More Warriors to Get Dogs
Throughout 2016, Bayer will connect K9s For Warriors alumni with veterinary clinics and pet retailers across the country that agree to provide free health and wellness goods and services needed to care for each warrior’s service dog. The program, called Operation K9 Care, is completely free to the veterans and ensures that all those who graduate from K9s For Warriors can more easily afford to keep their life-saving service dogs happy and healthy, which in turn, helps these veterans live a fulfilling life.
In addition to having their vet care paid for, participating pet retailers will offer K9s For Warriors graduates who are local to their communities, an annual $1,000 gift card for the life of the warrior’s service dog to help cover the cost of dog food, grooming services, leashes and other supplies.
Thank You To All Who Treat Our Heroes Like Heroes
I learned about the K9s For Warriors program while attending the Global Pet Expo. It was devastating to be made aware of the depression and suicide rate of veterans, but then so uplifting to hear about the success of K9s For Warriors. I got to hear Bryan Foltz speak of his experience and explain that he would not be here today if it was not for his service dog Dell, who was right by his side.
To the incredible folks who started K9s For Warriors – THANK YOU! To the folks at Bayer and the pet retailers who are part of Operation K9 Care – which covers food and veterinary services for the life of the dog – THANK YOU as well.
If you want to see our Warriors helped and treated like the American Heroes they are, head on over to K9s For Warriors and see how you can get involved.