Heroes For Our Heroes
In 2009, the Commandant of the Marine Corps asked Freedom Dogs to participate in a pilot program. Since then, these specialty trained service dogs have stood alongside Marines who have taken on unimaginable stress in the service of their country. Freedom Dogs is now an integral part of a warrior’s recovery from physical and emotional injuries.
Because our Country loses almost twice as many of our Warriors to suicide than combat, there is a persistent and urgent need for the tangible benefits that Freedom Dogs provides. Even though it costs approximately $45,000 to train each specialty service dog, Freedom Dogs does not charge for their service dogs or programs which is why their upcoming golf fundraiser is critical to the success of their organization.
10 Things About Specialty Service Dog Willy & Freedom Dogs
#1 Willy is a yellow, male, English Labrador Retriever who joined Freedom Dogs in July 2018 at age 8 weeks.
#2 Willy is named in honor of Col. Willard Buhl, who led the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines “The Thundering Third” in Iraq, where they cleared the city of Fallujah in November 2004.
#3 Willy is a very calm, confident and relaxed puppy which makes it easy to teach him new behaviors.
#4 Willy’s early months were spent on socialization and training. It’s imperative for Willy to work comfortably in various environments and ignore high level distractions.
#5 Willy will learn to alert a Service Member of potential triggers that could result in an anxiety attack. Willy will “dolphin punch” the Service Member’s leg to notify the handler of something that requires their attention – like a person coming up behind them.
#6 Willy will position himself between his Service Member and the public to provide personal space.
#7 Willy will wake the Service Member up from night terrors by turning on the light and cuddling with him. Once the Service Member is settled and goes back to sleep, Willy will turn off the light.
#8 Sgt. Cruz rarely left his room before he got his service dog Logan. “I struggle every day with isolation and depression. Being part of Freedom Dogs has actually gotten me out of that hole”.
#9 “After I deployed to Afghanistan, I couldn’t even accomplish a simple task. I had a lot of fear and was on guard all the time,” says Melissa, a former combat corpsman. After being paired with Freedom Dog Gunner, Melissa has regained her sense of self as well as a successful academic career and family life.
#10 Freedom Dogs’ annual golf tournament and dinner is an opportunity for the public to see how these service dogs help our warriors in ways that people cannot.