A Warrior Comes Home
As a sniper team leader in the United States Army, Matt Weitz served two combat tours in Iraq. When he returned home, Matt deeply struggled with the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS). He was prescribed medications for his disability that led to a five-year battle with substance abuse. Matt, realizing the severity of his addiction, sought rehabilitation. During this process, he considered how a service animal might help him reconnect with society. Despite the root of his prescribed medications and subsequent addition, Matt’s applications for a service animal were repeatedly denied.
God intervened and changed both Matt and Adam Keith’s lives forever in a place you may least expect: a hardware store.
While shopping, Matt met Adam, the owner of the store and a local dog kennel with years of experience professionally training hunting retrievers. Matt mentioned he was looking for a dog to help him cope with his PTS. Without hesitation, Adam offered him one of his puppies. Matt was introduced to his new partner, an eight-week old Labrador. Upon meeting, Matt could only think of one name for the puppy he knew would change his life: Freedom.
On their second night together, while Matt endured yet another nightmare, Freedom woke him and saved him from reliving the trauma of his past. Matt shared the experience with Adam. Together, they considered how Adam’s puppies might benefit other veterans who are struggling upon returning home.
Adam contacted his kennel customers to see what, if any, resources may be available. A flood of responses poured in. It was obvious that God had much bigger plans than either of them realized one day in the hardware store.
In 2014, Operation Freedom Dogs was born.
While the organization officially launched in the fall, the group marks the official start date as March 26 in memory of SPC. Gregory Brian Rundell, a comrade of Matt’s who was lost outside of Taji, Iraq on March 26, 2008. The memory of Greg and so many others has never been forgotten as we continue to serve those who were able to come home only to suffer from very real but hidden wounds.
In the years since, Operation Freedom Dogs, now Warrior Freedom Service Dogs, has climbed to new heights. The all-volunteer organization obtained 501c3 status and formed a board of directors to guide it. With incredibly talented volunteers at the helm, the opportunity to help struggling veterans suffering the side effects of war has never been greater. As we continue to grow and minister to those who were able to come home, we hold dear the memory of the ones who will never be forgotten.
The opportunity to help struggling veterans suffering from the effects of war has never been greater. With new sponsorship from local business and industry, the ability to impact our veteran and civilian communities has suddenly become an obtainable dream! Please consider supporting Warrior Freedom as we strive to help a long waiting list of struggling Veterans.
Join us as we build this worthy organization and serve those who defended us.