To celebrate the launch of our Fido Collection, R.Riveter is proud to partner with the nation's largest provider for disabled military veterans, K9s for Warriors. The profits from each K9 support tag will go towards K9s for Warriors, and help connect a service dog to a veteran in need.
Read on below to learn more about K9s for Warriors ----
Since 2011, K9s For Warriors has been serving post-9/11 veterans suffering from PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury, and/or Military Sexual Trauma. We rescue dogs and train them to be service dogs to mitigate the invisible wounds of military service and give American heroes a new “leash” on life. Based in Ponte Vedra, FL, K9s For Warriors has become the nation’s largest service dog provider for disabled military veterans. The VA estimates that 20 veterans die by suicide every day. Our goal is to end this suicide epidemic and empower veterans to return to life with dignity and independence.
K9s For Warriors started as a grass-roots effort led by Shari Duval. Already an active volunteer with military veterans, the severity of the invisible wounds of war confronted Shari head-on when her own son returned from Iraq with PTSD, after two tours as a DOD-contracted K9 bomb handler. Brett did not return the same man he and his mother knew before Iraq. After the frustration of identifying post-traumatic stress as the culprit, Shari fervently researched the symptoms and treatment for PTSD, determined to help her son heal. She noticed that when Brett was around dogs, his demeanor became calmer; his burden, lighter. The answer was clear: train service dogs to mitigate symptoms of military-related trauma, to help those who served to defend our nation’s freedom.
What started as a small nonprofit with a goal to pair 12 warrior-canine teams per year, transformed into a national veteran service organization capable of pairing 12 warrior-canine teams per month. The innovative program that rescues dogs to rescue warriors is available to all American heroes who served, or are still serving in the post-9/11 era. Each month, a new class of warriors arrives to begin a 21-day training program at Camp K9, the organization’s headquarters. Incoming warriors are paired with their own service dog, who has already undergone months of training with professional dog trainers.
K9s For Warriors holds 12 classes per year, divided between male and female classes. The training model supports each warrior’s healing and reintegration into society by giving peer-to-peer interaction and group training. Each Warrior receives group and individual instruction from Warrior Trainers who are program graduates themselves.
While in class at Camp K9, each Warrior is provided a highly-trained service dog, equipment, veterinary care for their canine, meals, transportation, and housing – all at no cost to them. The program is sustained by generous individual and corporate donors, sponsors, and passionate volunteers.
As of March 2018, K9s For Warriors has graduated 416 warrior-dog teams – that’s two lives saved with each team! The organization is on track to reach its 500th graduate by the end of 2018. Additionally, it just opened a second campus near Gainesville, FL, which will be used exclusively for female veterans.
Graduates of K9s For Warriors regularly report significant progress and healing after returning home with their service dog. There’s a high reduction in night terrors and panic attacks; they sleep better and feel calmer; the fear that prevents them from even leaving their home subsides. They pursue new jobs, education, and engage with their families and communities again.
Thanks to a scientific study conducted by Purdue University in partnership with K9s For Warriors’ program, there’s now empirical evidence backing up every service dog success story. Published in February 2018 by the Journal of Consulting & Clinical Psychology, the study shows several key factors supporting the claims that K9s For Warriors service dogs work to mitigate PTSD in warriors, such as:
- lower overall symptoms of post-traumatic stress;
- lower levels of depression;
- higher levels of life satisfaction;
- higher levels of companionship, and more.
Based on these preliminary findings, the NIH will fund a longer-term study to provide more data about the efficacy of service animals. K9s For Warriors’ goal is to use these findings to push the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to finally pay for service dogs as a treatment option for PTSD. Ultimately, this change in policy would allow more veterans to receive life-saving service dogs faster. After all, nearly 30% of post-9/11 veterans are diagnosed with the emotionally-crippling disability, yet we know that many who suffer do so in silence.