K9s for Warriors
Each issue, the editorial staff of Military Embedded Systems will highlight a different charitable organization that benefits the military, veterans, and their families. We are honored to cover the technology that protects those who protect us every day. To back that up, our parent company – OpenSystems Media – will make a donation to every group we showcase on this page.
This issue we are highlighting K9s for Warriors, a U.S. veterans’ service organization that trains rescue dogs to help veterans coping with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury, military sexual trauma, post-9/11 issues, and other psychological challenges associated with military service.
The organization was founded by Shari Duval, who launched the charity in 2011 following the return of her son from several tours in Iraq as a civilian K9 officer/bomb-dog handler. After several years of research on canine assistance for PTSD, Duval and her family decided to create a nonprofit organization to train and provide service canines to assist in warriors’ efforts to return to civilian life with dignity and independence. The K9s for Warriors training regimen – which occurs in two locations in Florida and one being built in Texas, with the program open to recipients across the U.S. – consists of bringing the warrior to a free three-week, in-house training program. During this time they receive a trained service canine, housing, all meals, equipment, veterinary care, and 120 hours of training in a supportive atmosphere that provides essential peer-to-peer encouragement. Because the service canines are already trained when they are paired with their veterans, the three-week training period is to teach the veterans how to interact with their new service dogs and facilitate the bonding necessary for successful human/dog teaming.
The 501(c)(3) organization reports that it graduated its 500th service dog team in January 2019.
For more information on K9s for Warriors, please visit www.k9sforwarriors.org.