Paws for Purple Hearts has established a site in San Antonio to provide life-changing therapy and service dogs to U.S. military active duty service members and veterans facing mobility challenges, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/or traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
In keeping with the time-honored tradition of warriors assisting other warriors, Paws for Purple Hearts’ Warrior Canine Therapy™ involves veterans and service members in the training of the service dogs that Paws for Purple Hearts will provide to other warriors who face mobility challenges, PTSD and/or TBI.
Each service dog requires upwards of 3 years of training and preparation. This allows plenty of opportunities for Paws for Purple Hearts therapy participants to reinforce the values and skills needed to prepare a service animal to properly assist other wounded warriors. Paws for Purple Hearts is the first program of its kind and developed its innovative therapeutic method in partnership with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) at its Menlo Park, CA site.
“Some of the recipients of the dogs trained by Paws for Purple Hearts include Warriors who have been diagnosed with PTSD as well as physical injuries sustained in service to our country,” states Dave Platte, the organization’s Chief Operating Officer. “These courageous individuals are now able to interact with others seamlessly and carry out their daily activities in public settings more easily as their new four-legged partners are equipped to help them with mobility as well as trauma-related issues.”
“We are especially proud to have Paws for Purple Hearts make their first home in Texas at the Port,” said Port President & CEO Roland Mower. “The San Antonio community has very deep military roots, and we applaud the dedicated efforts by our new customer to make a huge difference in the lives of those who have bravely defended our nation.”
A powerful intervention technique for those suffering residual effects of combat, Warrior Canine Therapy™ offers life-changing effects to program participants. For the men and women affected by war, the process of training a puppy to become a fully-grown service dog is accompanied by benefits such as reduced anxiety and depression, increased patience, improved sleep, decreased dependence upon pain medications, improved parenting skills, a more positive outlook and a renewed sense of purpose.
Additionally, the trained dogs who provide a sense of independence and security for their owners can themselves benefit from being part of loving households and receiving positive reinforcement for playing such important roles.
Founded in 2006, Paws for Purple Hearts operates additional sites in California, Virginia and Alaska. The organization’s Port San Antonio site is its first site in Texas.
Training service dogs starts at an early age. Instructors Martin Bergamaschi, above, and Lindsey Velasco, right, work closely with service dog-in-training Noah.
“Establishing a facility at Port San Antonio was a natural fit for us,” continues Platte. “It is critically important to our mission that we engage ourselves locally and work with the servicemen and women who comprise Military City, U.S.A.”