HCAA Supports Companion Pets for Vets //
Honorary Commanders Alumni Assn. and Atlanta Humane Society Team Up to Match Companion Dogs with Military Veterans in Georgia
According to a recent report by the Department of Veterans Affairs, 22 veterans take their own lives every day in the United States. Contributing to this alarming statistic is another study that revealed that an estimated 20% of veterans suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) along with other injuries that can make reintegrating into civilian life extremely difficult.
Researchers are working hard to find ways to reduce the tragic toll that PTSD is taking on our veterans and a new study by Purdue University shows that service dogs can reduce PTSD symptoms by up to 82% in just one week, proving that the power of a pet can help our heroes heal.
With this in mind, the Honorary Commanders Alumni Association, a leadership program of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, has teamed up with the Atlanta Humane Society(AHS) to provide free pet adoptions to veterans through the Companion Pets for Vets program. The AHS has long recognized the value of pet ownership for veterans. In early 2014, AHS began a two-year program that provided free pet adoptions to veterans and eventually matched more than 200 veterans with companion animals. The results were gratifying to everyone associated with the project.
One example of a veteran who benefitted from the Companion Pets for Vets program is Tomas Baez, who joined the military in 2008 and saw action as an Airborne Infantry soldier for four years in Afghanistan as well as humanitarian missions in Haiti. While he was on active duty, he became accustomed to sleepless nights, but when he returned home and sought to acclimate himself into civilian life, sleeping become more difficult and he suffered from bouts of depression. He was referred to the Atlanta Humane Society, where he met Dagger, a black lab mix, who would become his companion and forever friend.
“Dagger helped me tremendously,” Baez said. “The last thing that I would have ever thought was that he was going to rescue me, but, in a way, he did. He is with me every night and I am able to sleep soundly now. His love gave me a chance to give the world another try,” Baez added.
The Honorary Commanders Alumni Association is proud to partner with The Atlanta Humane Society by raising money to fund the Companion Pets for Vets program for 2016. The estimated cost to run this program annually and provide pets for 100 veterans is $25,000, which covers the cost of adopting animals that have been medically evaluated, vaccinated, spay/neutered and microchipped.
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