Our Brand Ambassador of the Month for August is Amanda Baity! This is Amanda’s second time this year being selected as R. Riveter’s BAOTM, and while we usually highlight a blog post about the ambassador, we wanted to announce some exclusive & exciting news from Amanda about the nonprofit she co-founded with her husband, Semper K9 Assistance Dogs.
Amanda’s husband Chris is an OEF/OIF USMC combat veteran who joined the Marine Corps with one goal in mind…to become a Military Working Dog Handler. After three combat deployments to Iraq with working dogs, one civilian deployment to Afghanistan as a contracting working dog handler and an overseas tour with the Marine Corps to Israel to train with the Oketz Dog School under the Israeli Defense Force, Chris felt lost as most veterans do when they transition out of active duty service.
Chris and SSD Rona K459 on the Tigris River
He stumbled into service dog work by accident when Amanda was interviewing the CEO of a top Veteran Service Organization for a media story. Chris immediately started an internship to learn how to develop a program utilizing rescue dogs to be custom trained as service dogs for wounded veterans. And so, Semper K9 was born!
“I wanted to take the skills the Marine Corps taught me and my post-deployment challenges to assist other veterans to overcome their own difficulties,” Chris said. He and Amanda founded Semper K9 in 2014 and went right to work. After researching other organizations that had similar missions, they identified weakness in different groups and strengths from industry leaders to create what currently has a one hundred percent success rate with their services.
“The most important things to us were to utilize rescue dogs and ensure that our veterans are assisted at no cost to them,” said Amanda. “Also, being a military family with small children, the family involvement was high on our list of priorities since our mission is to enhance the quality of life for our wounded veterans.”
Because of their dedication to Semper K9’s mission, Chris was awarded American Heroes Channel’s Red Bandanna Hero in 2016, featured as a ‘Hero Among Us’ in People magazine and named a Washingtonian of the Year for 2017 by Washingtonian magazine. He has just been awarded Evan Williams Bourbon American-Made Hero, a national campaign honoring military service members for their integrity and selfless service.
Last summer, Semper K9 purchased 33 acres adjacent to Marine Corps Base where they plan to build a retreat-style facility for out of area veterans and their families to come and train with their service dogs. This next step in their progress recently caught the eye of national TV host Mike Rowe. Rowe and his crew surprised the Baity’s and their team with a visit for their new show ‘Returning the Favor.’ Their episode, which currently has over 10 million views on Facebook Watch, showcases the mission, the veterans Semper K9 serves and the volunteers who help them make it happen.
Rowe with the Baity Family.
This recognition and boost on the national platform also gained the attention of a local family. “We were so impressed with the dedication that we saw from both Amanda and Chris for this amazing cause,“ said Maureen Sievers. “We wanted to help them achieve their dream at Semper K9.”
The Sievers donated $100,000 to Semper K9, which will allow them to jump-start their goals that Mike Rowe had a hand in getting started on Returning the Favor. “There are no truer heroes than our military personnel,” said Jen Sievers, who is now a volunteer with Semper K9. “To find an organization that supports both veterans as well as provides a purpose for rescue dogs sparked immediate interest and desire to help.”
Semper K9 plans to use these funds to begin the construction of their facility with hopes to have it completed by Summer 2019.
Other exciting partnerships have emerged from their Returning the Favor experience; Amanda and Chris will be speaking at E-Z-GO Influencers Conference where there will be an official announcement of E-Z GO's sponsorship of Semper K9.. E-Z-GO is the leading global manufacturer of golf cars, utility vehicles and personal transportation vehicles.
“All of this is super exciting for our family, which includes our volunteers and the veteran families that we serve,” said Amanda. “We are truly thankful to have the support of this magnitude from so many different types of people, businesses and organizations.”
Congratulations to Amanda and the other women who are part of the #BagsonaMisson Community who are making a difference in the lives of others.
Where you can find Amanda: