"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." This quote by John F. Kennedy illustrates the importance of helping our veterans. Veteran's Day is coming up on November 11th which is a day to honor and support veterans. They need our help now more than ever. Did you know that more than 22 veterans commit suicide every day? 1 in 3 combat veterans are diagnosed with Post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD. 1 in 3 of our country's homeless population are veterans. Three organizations are coming together and uniting with a special purpose. The Rotary Club of Cayucos-Seaside, Woods Humane Society and K9's 4 Veterans are collaborating on a project to supply service dogs and companion dogs to Central Coast Veterans at no cost to the veterans with PTSD. This partnership needs support to be successful.
Cayucos Rotarians were introduced to this problem back in February of 2013 when a veteran came and spoke to the club regarding PTSD and of the severe problem with veterans coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. These men and women were diagnosed with PTSD. These Americans were getting nowhere with the VA. There has to be another alternative.
This alternative begins with New Life K9's. They look for dogs from a variety of sources including breeders and animal shelters. The trainers at New Life K9's are working in conjunction with trainers at Woods to find these unique dogs. The ideal service dog is calm and amiable.
That's where Dick Mellinger and Gil Igleheart, two members of the Rotary Club of Cayucos-Seaside, came in to help. These two Rotarians set up the meeting and everything fell into place. Woods would invite Nicole Hern, director of training at New Life K9's, to help the trainers at Woods. Nicole's training is much more complex than for regular dog training. She is a service dog trainer. She will help teach the trainers at Woods, who have been between 120-150 dogs a month in what to look for in a service dog. These dogs are very unique (maybe 1 in 10 makes it). This process will provide New Life K9's with between 12-15 dogs each month.
It has been documented that animals help relieve all kinds of emotional problems, depression, stress, anxiety, and PTSD. Most of these dogs are rescued from a shelter, so the dogs are as thankful as the veterans. These unique animals are trained to sense when the veteran is having a difficult time or if they forget to take their medications or if they simply need a hug.
As you can see, our veterans need our help. They gave their lives for us, isn't it about time for us to give to them? Instead of just uttering words in support, let's express our gratitude in the form of a comforting canine.
For more information, please contact Dick Mellinger at dick.mellinger@gmail.com or Gil Igleheart at 805-710-0332. Coming soon on the internet at www.PawsforaCauseCA.org.
Dick Mellinger
Rotary Club of Cayucos-Seaside