Grant Year: 2022 | Focus Area: Health and Wellness| Grant Amount: $103,820 | Grant Status: In Progress
Healing Paws for Warriors (HP4W) is a local veteran founded/veteran led 501(c)(3). Their mission is to provide rescue-to-trained service dogs to combat veterans faced with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and/or Military Sexual Trauma (MST) at no cost to the veteran with continued support, reducing the statistic of veteran suicide, increasing self and family health and wellness. Dogs only come from local rescues and dogs and veterans learn as a team. The HP4W team consists of a combat war veteran, practicing PTSD therapist, professional service dog trainer, veterinarian, and a host of volunteers. Ongoing mentorship is provided to those veterans who have completed HP4W training and been paired with a service dog. The Family Integration Program coaches the families of service members to manage the difficulties they may face when bringing a service dog into their home. HP4W is committed to community education; they present programs to schools, civic organizations, businesses, and government agencies that focus on disability awareness and the impact that a service dog can have on wounded veterans. Their presentations include mental health education, suicide awareness and prevention.
OVERVIEW OF THE PROPOSED PROJECT
At this time, Healing Paws for Warriors is reliant upon volunteers using their personal vehicles to tow their operations trailer. These operations trailers contain all the field supplies and necessary materials specific to each type of planned event or activity. The IMPACT 100 grant will fund an appropriately equipped and durable truck with ample load and towing capacity to pull an existing Healing Paws for Warriors operations trailer. Additionally, it will transport veterans and service dogs to various outreach, educational, fundraising and training events. The grant will also fund the purchase of truck accessories and insurance coverage. The operational trailer supports many events, including Veteran Outreach, Mental Health Education, Suicide Awareness and Prevention, Military Sexual Assault and Traumatic Brain Injury Recovery programs, and dog rescue efforts. Having a dedicated tow vehicle enhances the visual presence of HP4W to bring individuals to the table where vital information is provided, and a safe relationship with HP4W is established.
EXPECTED IMPACT ON THE COMMUNITY
The purchase of a tow vehicle will improve the response efficiency to outreach, educational, fundraising and training events, thus increasing the visibility of HP4W. This will allow HP4W to attend more community outreach events, build trust and relationships with combat veterans and ultimately increase the effectiveness in providing meaningful support for at-risk members. Of particular concern is providing a safe, neutral space for female veterans that are victims of military sexual trauma to seek healing. Having a dedicated tow vehicle, rather than using the personal vehicles of HP4W members, will allow volunteers to focus on the goal of rescuing more dogs from animal shelters and pairing them with veterans in need. This pairing will provide hope, healing, and empowerment to veterans to return to civilian life and ultimately reduce the incidence of veteran suicide. The current goal is “24 by 24”, an initiative that will result in twenty-four new veteran and service dog pairings by 2024.