Dog training facility constructed for returning veterans

Pawsability 4 Veterans partners with The Home Depot

Contributed by Sunny Farrand
Sandy Dee and London.

■ By Brian Hoeft / Contributed

Pawsability 4 Veterans has created an outlet for veterans utilizing the philosophy of “one veteran, one service dog, one family at a time” and connecting the missing link of coming back home by creating a life that they would love living.
They accomplish this by having a large team and data bank from which they pull resources and information to assist veterans and their needs. Sandy Dee, the local contact, is quick to say “Pawsability 4 Veterans services are for all veterans, not just those with disabilities.” This organization strives to provide the missing link and connect veterans with the resources and help that they need.
Another organization that is making strides to assist veterans is The Home Depot Foundation. According to their website, The Home Depot created a five-year goal to hire 55,000 veterans starting in 2012 – and met their goal two years ahead of schedule.
Since 2011, The Home Depot Foundation has made improvements to 26,700 veteran homes and improved 6,900 veteran facilities. These facilities often help many transitioning soldiers to the civilian lifestyle by helping to improve their quality of life.
Pawsability 4 Veterans and The Home Depot Foundation partnered together April 27 to help fill a void by constructing and completing a dog training arena that is critical to the ongoing success of the Paswabiltiy 4 Veterans dog training program.
Our very own local Veterans of Foreign War (VFW) Post 2266 in San Jacinto donated the space for this new training arena – the first of its kind! It offers an exercise course while containing all the equipment of an agility course within an exercise arena.
Previously, the training was being conducted in the VFW parking lot. The Home Depot’s goal “was to create a safe, designated space for all 120 veterans and dogs to receive needed therapy and training.” With a volunteer staff and a great turnout, the goal was accomplished.

Contributed by Sandy Dee
London with The Home Depot volunteers.

The majority of the volunteers who worked on the training facility are from our very own local Home Depot here in Hemet. The volunteers installed new fences, laid gravel, installed sprinkler systems, lighting for night training and created an exercise training courses. Pawsability 4 Veterans will use the training facility to offer dog training programs for veterans and their dogs – at no cost to the veteran. Additional dogs at the new facility will be matched with veterans for companionship and assistance as they return to civilian life.” The Home Depot feels this project identifies with their organizational goal to assist veterans.
There is a growing need for additional veterans’ services within our area. CalVet is anticipating a return of more than 30,000 veterans to the civilian world on a yearly basis for the next several years in California alone. While this number doesn’t seem too high; according to the California Research Bureau “California is home to nearly 1.9 million veterans, [which is] by far the largest veteran population in the country.”
As most veterans transition well into a civilian lifestyle and come home physically and mentally healthy, others may struggle and need additional services. These services are often crucial to assist within the transitional period back into the civilian lifestyle.
While it’s true that everyone faces health issues, veterans also face special health issues, including greater rates of hearing impairment, loss of sight, knee problems, migraines, ankle trouble and PTSD.
According to Wounded Warrior, “more than 540,000 veterans have been diagnosed with PTSD.” As this population of veterans increase and their needs keep changing, Pawsability 4 Veterans has a solution to assist those veterans in our valley area by offering service dogs.
The service dog training program includes training the dogs to help alert the veteran, offer companionship, and in some cases, the dogs are trained for certain assistance needs. As the dog is paired to the veteran, they also allow for the veteran to begin working with the dogs and understand how to handle them. Ultimately, it offers a sense of accomplishment and purpose to those soldiers transitioning out of the military.
These training programs are conducted at the local VFW Post 2266 in San Jacinto. For additional information, call Sandy Dee at (562) 719-6826 or email her at gotosandydee@gmail.com or visit http://www.apawsability4veterans.org/.

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