PHA Helps Pets for Vets Create a Super Bond
For the last five years, the Patriot Health Alliance has supported Pets for Vets with a monthly financial donation. This past Veterans Day, we added an extra $25,000 donation to this worthy organization that provides U.S. veterans with custom-trained working dogs.
Many U.S. soldiers return from their service to our country with physical and emotional injuries. Those issues can make it very difficult to transition back to civilian life.
Pets For Vets® connects our nation’s military veterans with rescued animals to create second chances and new beginnings. Since its founding in 2009, the organization has matched 650 veterans with their highly-trained A.C.E™ custom-trained working animals.
They also provide additional support to many of their previously matched veterans, thanks to the help of sponsors such as Patriot Health Alliance (PHA). Through Pets for Vets, deserving shelter dogs receive a second chance while giving veterans a second chance at health and happiness.
Matching Vets With Custom-Trained Working Dogs
PHA, which has supported Pets for Vets with a monthly financial donation since 2018, recently celebrated both Veterans Day and Giving Tuesday by presenting Pets for Vets Founder and Executive Director Clarissa Black with a $25,000 check.
“We enrich the lives of veterans by creating a Super Bond® with custom-trained working animals to help with different things like PTSD and traumatic brain injury,” Clarissa said.
“The Super Bond is a symbiotic, mutually beneficial social attachment that enhances physiological and psychological wellbeing and provides comfort and empowerment for veterans.
“In other words… we rescue, train and match the personality profile of who the veteran is to the temperament composite of who the dog is. Then we can see if that dog is a great match for that human and then the two of them can be connected for the Super Bond.
“The secrets to training a veteran for animal companionship lie in listening to what it is the veteran needs, what it is they’re looking for, what it is they hope to be able to do with their animal.”
‘Who Knew a Dog Might Change Your Life?’
Tammy is a veteran who is grateful to Pets for Vets for her dog, Rex. “Coming home, everything changed,” she said. “Life changed.
“After war, you can’t see things the same anymore. It’s different. So for about 10 years, I was just trying to survive every day.
“I was looking at veterans’ stories on the Pets for Vets main webpage. And I was like, ‘Wow, that sounds like me! That feels like me. That is my experience, but they get a dog!’ Who knew a dog might change your life?
“The organization has given so much. I mean, it’s not just Rex that’s changed my life, it’s the whole program exchange.”
Therapy Session Turns Into Lifetime Relationship
Clarissa said the idea for Pets for Vets came to her while she was working at a VA hospital, conducting therapy work with her dog, Bear.
“My dog was a ham,” she said. “He loved people. If somebody was lying in bed, he could lay quietly while they pet him. If they were working on mobility, he would stand at the end with his paws up.
“It was at that moment where I thought, ‘Well, why is therapy only one hour once a week inside the walls of the VA?
“Why can’t I use my skills as an animal trainer and my background and knowledge in psychology to be able to provide a Bear connection to veterans?’ And that Bear connection later became known as the Super Bond.”
Wheelchair-Bound Vet Finds a ‘Lady’
Clarissa said she remembers the first veteran she helped by presenting him with a custom-trained working dog.
“His name was Davis and we placed him with a dog named Lady,” Clarissa said. “I was just starting out and making connections with different groups and shelters.
“I found a rescue organization willing to work with me, and I found a really sweet little dog named Lady. I trained her to follow next to a wheelchair.
“Davis was suffering from some of the effects of Agent Orange from his time in service and so he really needed his companion to be able to get onto his lap, walk next to him, be able to eat from a spoon.”
A Bridge to a Normal Life
Clarissa said having a custom-trained working dog not only changes how many veterans feel, but also allows them to live a more normal life.
“Having a pet provides that unconditional love and support that sometimes people feel that maybe they’re not getting from the people in their lives and the people around them,” she said.
“So maybe previously they weren’t leaving their house, but now I’m getting text messages from them at their kids’ baseball games with their dogs.
“One veteran said that in the first day of having his dog, he met more people than he had in the previous year. I’ve had veterans tell me they’re turning their lights off at night when they go to sleep.”
Many brave troops return home with scars. Millions of animals wait in shelters for a forever home. Pets for Vets is the bridge that brings them together.