A&D’s Sustainable Solutions Service Group Associate Ben Chandler has been contributing to the K9s For Warriors mission for nearly two years.

With the help of his wife, Gloria, and daughter, Abbe, the Chandler family has welcomed two Labradoodle puppies into their home. The first puppy, named Maverick, arrived in July 2017 and the second puppy, named Buddy, arrived in October 2018. As foster puppy raisers, their goal was to transition Maverick and Buddy into elite service dogs for a veteran in need.

Although the Chandlers have not served in the military themselves, this is their way of giving back to those who have.

“We didn’t serve our country, so we feel like helping those who have served and who need help right now,” Ben explained. “This is one small way that we can help give back to what they’ve done for our country.”

 “A New Leash on Life”

K9s For Warriors is the nation’s largest provider of service dogs to military veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury and Military Sexual Trauma as a result of military service post-9/11.

Most dogs in the program are found in rescue and high-kill shelters. They are trained to the highest of standards and are placed with deserving Warriors. Once paired, the two go through a 21-day residential program on site, which offers full immersion of training, daily living skills, community integration, peer-to-peer interaction and human and animal bonding with skilled oversight.

As part of RS&H’s Elevate Fund, K9s For Warriors received a $5,000 grant to help expand their facilities and make space for future warriors and service canines. The expansion will include a Warrior Resource Center for returning warriors, a new training kennel and dog depot to recruit new dogs.

With more space for dogs, K9s For Warriors will need plenty of puppy-raisers like the Chandler family to help care for them.

Thankfully, K9s For Warriors provides all the materials necessary to raise a new dog. During the puppy’s stay, it is up to volunteers to provide a loving and safe environment, teach basic commands, and provide socialization opportunities.

Not only can volunteers help raise puppies, they can also attend community events or spend time at the K9s For Warriors facility helping with day-to-day tasks. All these efforts are geared towards assisting K9s For Warriors in their ultimate mission of giving our service men and women a new “leash on life.”

 From Puppy to Protector

A service dog can make a world of a difference to somebody who is suffering from PTSD by helping them navigate through life without fear. Volunteers like Ben who take the time to raise future service canines are making significant differences in the lives of our service men and women.

While it may be hard to let new four-legged family members go once their training is complete, Ben feels that there is nothing better than seeing a service dog’s impact on a warrior’s life.

“I can’t lie — it’s very difficult to say goodbye. But you have to remember it’s more important that somebody else is going to benefit from a service dog,” he explained. “One memory that stands out was when a Warrior’s wife said that she had called him at the beginning of his stay on campus, she could tell by the sound of his voice that being paired with Maverick was already changing his life.”

Find out more about the RS&H Elevate Fund here.

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