If you have never heard of the non-profit Paws and Stripes, you are in for a treat. It is truly one of the most noteworthy organizations I have come in contact with.
They pair rescue dogs (that they train at no cost to the veteran) with the person suffering from PTSD or TBI. The veteran and dog essentially end up saving each other's lives, such a simple yet powerful concept.
I met the co-founder, Jim Stanek in Albuquerque, NM when I was there a couple of months ago on active duty orders for the Navy. I was drawn to his own story and how his rescue dog became his loyal friend and defender, constantly "watching his back."
These companions are trained to deal with each person's specific issues, and being on alert for them is a trait that someone with PTSD might need.
I talked to Jim almost every day that I was in town, each time growing more impressed with the work Paws and Stripes does, even meeting a couple of vets and the dogs that were paired together. What's amazing is that they become legitimate service dogs, and they go everywhere with their owners.
I am still in awe of the genuine work Jim and his team are doing for those that sacrificed for our freedom, and returned home with "invisible wounds" and lives that will never be the same.
I look forward to do doing anything I can to assist them in getting sponsors and donations so they can continue giving comfort to dogs and veterans.
Monday, December 26, 2011
Many people are aware of the Make a Wish Foundation and its mission. It's an incredible organization that grants "wishes" for children with life-threatening illnesses, making their special dreams come true, if only for a day.
Veteran Tickets Foundation, or Vet Tix, the popular non-profit that provides free tickets to concerts and professional sporting events to veterans (I have been a lucky recipient) has created a similar concept geared towards servicemembers. It's called Hero's Wish and our men and women who are fighting for our country can request a dream outing to a concert or game prior to or upon return from a deployment. Many of these guys/gals are away for as long as a year, so the chance to go to the game of their dreams with the entire family, their spouse, or a few friends can be an experience of a lifetime. Vet Tix is all about enhancing the morale of our warfighters, who have the unique experience of not only being away from their families for extended periods of time, but have the risky profession of being in harm's way on a daily basis while deployed.
There are so many great organizations that make a difference in the lives of veterans who protect our freedom. I can't think of a better way to express my gratitude than scanning that wish list to see if there's something on there I can contribute to.