May is National Military Appreciation Month - Southeast Florida

May is National Military Appreciation Month - Southeast Florida

Lorea Thomson
Posted by Lorea Thomson
Updated on
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Published in Animals & Pets

May is National Military Appreciation Month. This is a time when Southeast Florida residents and all Americans pay tribute to the dedicated service members who have taken an oath to protect and serve our country. However, for many veterans, the return home from war can be yet another daunting battle as they nurse wounds that might not be visible on the surface. Tragically, 184 veterans a day are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress, and twenty take their own lives as a result.

South Florida nonprofit, American Humane aims to help these heroes with its Pups4Patriots program, which finds dogs in need of forever homes and trains them to become service dogs for veterans across the country at absolutely no cost to the veterans themselves.

Service dogs can transform the lives of these veterans and give them a renewed sense of purpose. Research shows that specially trained service dogs can reduce stress and anxiety levels in veterans while easing reintegration into social settings and restoring confidence to those managing traumatic brain injuries or post-traumatic stress.

Since the program began, American Humane has graduated seventy teams, including this year’s latest duo: Charles and Shiloh from Brevard County, Florida.

Charles was deployed to Iraq and served in the Army from 2005 to 2009. After ending his service, the Florida native struggled to adapt back to civilian life with his family, whether it was successfully falling asleep at night or joining his wife in attending a crowded event. When he saw a Pups4Patriots program video on YouTube while conducting general research into acquiring a service dog, he decided that he was the latest patriot in need of a pup.

Once accepted into the program, Charles was paired with a male Labrador Retriever named Shiloh, and the two collaborated with an American Humane trainer to complete a “boot camp” that was a little furrier than the one he attended in the Army. “Throughout the week there’s even more of a connection and you’re falling in love with the dog and the dog is falling in love with me,” Charles said. “The training was getting the dog to connect with me, and, at the same time, it was me connecting with Shiloh and building that trust between each other.” 

Service dogs are an invaluable asset to veterans who have sustained trauma, but there are significant obstacles to receiving one. Professionally training a dog so they perform their needed tasks and remain calm and focused in public areas can be both expensive and time-consuming, with costs that can skyrocket upwards of $30,000. And even when the cost is not an obstacle, wait times can still be prohibitively long. Through the Pups4Patriots program, American Humane provides no-cost service dogs to veterans in both a timely and efficient manner. The Pups4Patriots program, and its training of teams like Charles and Shiloh, are made possible through donor support. 

For more information about the Pups4Patriots program and watch youtu.be/t1vTwfRcT2I.

 

 

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