More than a service animal

Our program is designed to do more than supply a service animal to a disabled veteran. We help our veterans reconnect to the purpose-filled life they deserve; one of doing more than they thought possible. One of a restored brotherhood. One of becoming a better brother or sister, son or daughter, father or mother, friend, and contributor to society.

We strive to give this gift of life and re-connection to the most deserving of all humans in our society: the American soldier. Our focus is on the combat veterans who have returned home from the battlefields with deep physical, mental, and emotional wounds that make reconnecting to society a significant struggle. Our goal for each veteran who enters our program is to become successful with their new canine life partner.

The process below is under constant evaluation to ensure the best program for our nation’s heroes.

Application

Combat veterans with PTS may apply to participate in our program.

Warrior Freedom has a two-part application process. The Warrior Freedom application, as well as a background check, may be completed online. Applicants must also provide a copy of DD214, a letter from your provider, and a self-assessment for PTS.

Application

Combat veterans with PTS may apply to participate in our program.

Warrior Freedom has a two-part application process. The Warrior Freedom application, as well as a background check, may be completed online. Applicants must also provide a copy of DD214, a letter from your provider, and a self-assessment for PTS.

Admission

Once we receive a complete application, background check results DD214, letter from your provider, and self assessment we contact the applicant to schedule a phone interview.

After completion of a phone interview, we then schedule a home visit. The applicant is then presented to the Executive Team for approval.

If approved, the veteran may enter our program.

Training

Our veterans, animals, and Warrior Freedom staff meet one evening each week as a team to train and engage as a group. In addition, our veterans meet privately with a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessment (CPDT-KA) for individualized training once a week. Therefore, each veteran is engaging with Warrior Freedom staff, trainers. and dogs twice a week during our training program. Positive training techniques are utilized to build the relationships between veterans and dogs. For this reason, we take extreme consideration when determining our training methods and which animals are ready for this critical task.

Initial Weeks

Veterans are introduced to the trainers, mentors, and each other. They review expectations, dog health, and become acclimated to the environment.

Training Process

We train the dogs professionally for a short time and integrate the veterans in the process. Dogs are trained to meet the requirements of the Public Access Test (PAT) and in specific tasks tailored to the personal needs of each veteran. Some examples of tasks our dogs are trained to carry out include:

  • Help act as a barrier when in crowds
  • Calm the handler using deep pressure therapy

  • Retrieve medications

  • Provide a sense of security that someone else is watching out for them

  • Interrupt destructive behaviors
  • Awaken a veteran from nightmares

  • Guide their handler home during a dissociative episode

  • Provide overall awareness to surroundings, putting the veteran at ease and relieving them of the need to stay hyper-vigilant

We believe in training the veteran to train the dog. This provides a deeper connection between each veteran and dog, as well as the entire group. This period equips them with the skills to continue training while reconnecting them with the society they defended.

Training

Our veterans, animals, and Warrior Freedom staff meet one evening each week as a team to train and engage as a group. In addition, our veterans meet privately with a Certified Public Dog Trainer for individualized training once a week. Therefore, each veteran is engaging with Warrior Freedom staff, trainers. and dogs twice a week during our training program. Positive training techniques are utilized to build the relationships between veterans and dogs. For this reason, we take extreme consideration when determining our training methods and which animals are ready for this critical task.

Initial Weeks

Veterans are introduced to the trainers, mentors, and each other. They review expectations, dog health, and become acclimated to the environment.

Training Process

We train the dogs professionally for a short time and integrate the veterans in the process. Dogs are trained to meet the requirements of the Public Access Test (PAT) and in specific tasks tailored to the personal needs of each veteran. Some examples of tasks our dogs are trained to carry out include:

  • Help act as a barrier when in crowds
  • Calm the handler using deep pressure therapy

  • Retrieve medications

  • Provide a sense of security that someone else is watching out for them

  • Interrupt destructive behaviors
  • Awaken a veteran from nightmares

  • Guide their handler home during a dissociative episode

  • Provide overall awareness to surroundings, putting the veteran at ease and relieving them of the need to stay hyper-vigilant

We believe in training the veteran to train the dog. This provides a deeper connection between each veteran and dog, as well as the entire group. This period equips them with the skills to continue training while reconnecting them with the society they defended.

Graduation

At this point, the teams have successfully passed the following requirements: Canine Good Citizen (CGC), CGC Advanced, CGC Urban, Public Access Test, and three to five personal, specific tasks to mitigate PTS. Therefore, Warrior Freedom now recognizes them as a Service Dog team and provides each team with a service dog vest and identification card. Veterans are now equipped with the skills to reconnect with society in a new way with a best friend by their side.

After Graduation

We encourage our veterans to stay involved in the program as we minister to the needs of a new group of veterans. We often hear this is among the veterans’ favorite portions of the program. We deeply believe true healing begins once we can focus on the needs of others.

In addition, we require all graduates to return once per year to retest each dog. This ensures the dog is properly serving the needs of each veteran and continues to meet the requirements of a Warrior Freedom Service Dog while creating another opportunity to offer our ongoing support for reconnection to society.

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