Here’s our latest ‘Paws of Allegiance’, a Paws for Purple Hearts Newsletter.

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Air Force Chief Master Sergeant Richard Simonsen receives his Service Dog Yoko from foster puppy parents John Porter and Beryl Fritz during the PPH Graduation Ceremony at Ft. Belvoir on March 9, 2012.

On Friday, March 9, Paws for Purple Hearts held its first East Coast Graduation Ceremony at Ft. Belvoir, Virginia where two Service Dogs, Niles and Yoko were placed with active duty Wounded Warriors and Nathan was placed as the Ft. Belvoir Community Hospital’s first Facility Dog! Our thanks to the wonderful staff and Command at the hospital for welcoming PPH to Ft. Belvoir for the first of what we hope will be many more graduations where we will place fully trained Service Dogs with American Wounded Warriors. Be sure to check out our Facebook page for photos and additional commentary.

Excerpt from an article from the Belvoir Eagle, written by Matt Bookwalter:

Paws for Purple Hearts
Dogs trained by active-duty servicemembers, veterans

Cpl. Niles keeps a sharp eye out as he glides along the aisles. He’s looking for anything that his partner could need, listening for any help that would be wanted. His blue jacket is proudly displaying his ID, and his tail is wagging in a rhythmic, clock-like, manner.

Cpl. Niles is a service dog. His human partner, Col. Roger Lintz, received him through the Paws for Purple Hearts program.

The PPH is a California-based program that breeds, trains and pairs service dogs with compatible veteran and active-duty partners, based on need.

“The dogs are trained to know 90 to 100 different commands,” said PPH trainer Robert Porter. “As they are paired with their partners, they can learn the individual’s needs.”

The training process is a long and adaptive process for the animals. It starts behind closed doors, in a controlled environment. Once the initial training is finished, the dogs are paired up, and both the dog and owner train together.

“We have them practice in a real world environment,” Porter said. “We take them on field trips to places like the Metro, movie theaters and stores. We make the dogs go through things that aren’t normal for them, like riding escalators.”

Part of the training the coupled pair experience, is bonding.

“After a year or so, the dogs can actually anticipate what their human partners will need,” said Porter.

Read full article here.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation on October 11, 2011 that would create up to five pilot programs at VA medical centers across the country modeled after the Paws for Purple Hearts program. The Veterans Dog Training Therapy Act, H.R. 198, was sponsored by Rep. Michael Grimm, (R-NY). Under the legislation, veterans will be able to address their post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) through therapeutic dog training and handling. The trained service dogs will then be given to physically disabled veterans to help them meet their daily challenges. The legislation now moves to the U.S. Senate for action.

Read the full article here.

An Article from the Village Connector, written by Tammy Bowers:

Paws for Purple Heart lend support to their fellow Veterans…in companionship, lifelong friendships and Hearts of Gold…

Paws for Purple Hearts (PPH) is the first program of its kind to offer therapeutic intervention for veterans and active-duty military personnel by teaching those with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to train service dogs for their comrades with combat-related physical disabilities. PPH is built upon the trusted and time-honored tradition of veterans helping veterans.

Founded in 2006 as a program of California’s Bergin University for Canine Studies, Paws for Purple Hearts has operated its intensive training programs at four locations throughout the United States: Palo Alto/Menlo Park VA Medical Center (California), Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (Bethesda, Maryland), the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (Bethesda, Maryland), and Fort Belvoir (Virginia).

Under the guidance of PPH instructors, service members engage with specially-bred Golden and Labrador Retriever puppies. Together they undergo an intensive 18-to-24-month service dog training regimen—learning more than 90 commands–while the veterans reintegrate into civilian life. Once training is complete, the service dogs are given to veterans who have sustained mobility-limiting injuries. These service dogs reside for the rest of their lives with their new owners. Since PPH’s inception, service dog training and connections have directly impacted hundreds of veterans’ lives.

For those men and women suffering from PTSD, the very process of training the puppies results in therapeutic benefits which can include:

  • less anxiety and depression
  • decreased dependence upon pain medications
  • greater sociability and a more positive outlook a mission-driven focus and renewed sense of purpose.

To those with combat disabilities, receiving a fully-trained service dog means having a new steadfast companion and a true partner in their recovery. It also translates to greater independence, as PPH dogs help out by performing tasks like picking up dropped items, tugging open and closing doors, and switching on lights. And the dogs? They benefit from loving homes and the positive reinforcement received for playing such important roles in the well-being of their owners. The Paws for Purple Hearts program embodies our motto: Veterans helping Veterans.

For additional information and how you can lend support or financial assistance be sure to contact Robert W. Porter – Executive Director & CEO – Paws for Purple Hearts –


Tammy Bowers is a Charter Member and Community Reporter with the Village Connector Community News. She is the Co-Owner of Rolling Ads of Maryland, a unique branding company as well as an Outdoor Mobile Billboard Advertising Vehicle. She is also the Owner ofInspiring Hearts LLC, a boutique specializing with handcrafted and uniquely designed items that are motivational and inspirational. You can reach Tammy at 410-615-4117 or 410-812-6024 or via email at

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