From Shelter to Solider--Meet Our Dog Kai.

Author:Mahoney, Evelyn

In May 2017, The ASMC San Diego Chapter asked Shelter to Soldier to be our featured charity organization at the ASMC Professional Development Institute (PDI) in San Diego Shelter to Soldier is a nonprofit organization that adopts dogs from local shelters and trains them to become psychiatric service dogs for post-9/11 combat veterans suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), or other injuries resulting from traumatic service experiences.

Every day, 20 veterans and one active duty service member are lost to suicide. That's an average of one life lost every 69 minutes. The suicide rate among the nation's military personnel has spiked this year, eclipsing the number of troops dying in battle and on pace to set a record annual high since the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan more than a decade ago. PTSD is a major problem for our men and women in uniform, and veterans, and its effects last far beyond the battlefield.

Every year, the United States sees 7.6 million animals enter shelters. More than half of them are dogs, at 3.9 million. This year alone, 1.2 million dogs will be euthanized due to space, behavioral problems, or medical complications. Many great dogs are often overlooked at shelters due to behavioral issues such as protest when left alone, different levels of separation anxiety, unruliness, barking, poor house manners, and housebreaking. Shelter to Soldier has professional dog trainers who are experts in behavior modification, and in most cases, are able to modify unwanted behaviors and continue to train the dogs at the elite level of service work needed for their new jobs. The training expertise for these service dogs is unmatched in the field and provides a great platform to use that talent to serve our military personnel and veterans in honor of their service to our country. Sponsored service dogs serve the critical role of psychological support to their veteran handlers.

As our featured charity organization, we were able to raise more than $10,000 through apparel sales. ASMC National also donated $15,000 from the charitable donations baskets that were provided by ASMC chapters nationwide. Everyone was extremely supportive in donating to Shelter to Soldier. As a result, the San Diego Chapter became a Red Star Sponsor of this organization. Red Star sponsorship included naming an adopted dog, receiving periodic updates and photos of the dog's progress, and being able to...

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