Take a Pause for Purple Hearts on August 7th
Today, we’re pausing for Purple Hearts. August 7th is National Purple Heart Day – a day to honor Combat Veterans in the U.S. Armed Forces who were wounded or paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving. At Paws for Purple Hearts (PPH), it is a privilege to carry the name of such an honorable award, and we want to thank all of our Purple Heart Warriors for their service.
What is a Purple Heart?
The Purple Heart medal is the oldest and one of the most respected medals awarded to U.S. Service Members and Veterans. George Washington first introduced it in 1782 as the Badge of Military Merit but was officially named the Purple Heart in 1932.
This highly recognized medal is awarded to members of the U.S. Armed Forces who have been wounded or killed in enemy-related combat.
PPH is honored to serve hundreds of Veterans and Service Members, including many that are recipients of this decoration, like Richard.
Purple Heart medal recipient, Richard and his service dog Yoko
Richard was a senior non-commissioned officer in the United States Air Force, a veteran of the war in Iraq, and deployed to Afghanistan twice.
In January 2011, Richard received his first Purple Heart medal for a back and hip injury caused by an improvised explosive device (IED) attack on his mounted combat patrol. Just three months later, he was awarded another Purple Heart medal. This time for a traumatic brain injury that resulted from another IED attack.
He struggled with severe anxiety, depression, and memory loss, and to cope he just wanted to be alone. A therapist recommended a service dog to him, but he initially didn’t think it would be a good fit. Richard said,
“I was hurt, mentally, and physically, but I had all my toes and fingers and wasn’t interested. Further, I didn’t think a dog would be compatible while I was on active duty.”
Soon, Richard changed his mind and applied for a service dog with Paws for Purple Hearts, and in 2012 he met his canine companion, Yoko.
“PPH was there when things looked bleakest and helped me recover to become a productive member of society,” says Richard. “Without them placing me with Yoko, I am not sure how I would have coped during my recovery process.”
Yoko helped Richard with both of his combat-related injuries throughout the end of his career and into retirement.
The two have been inseparable since they became a pair in 2012, and Yoko is getting older, but her positive impact on Richard’s mental health remains.
“As Yoko enters her retirement, I miss her constant presence, but I am able to do what I can without her because of how she was with me when I needed help the most.”
We want to thank you, Richard, for your service and sacrifice. We are honored to be a part of your journey.
Does PPH only serve Purple Heart medal recipients?
The answer is no. Even though “Purple Heart” is in our name, we provide our free services to all qualified Veterans and Service Members. If you or someone you know is interested in getting a service dog, take a look at our application process to see if a PPH dog is the right fit.
We are so grateful to all our supporters out there who are committed to serving our community and to building a better future for all of our nation’s brave Warriors. If you would like to volunteer or donate, click on the links above and help us accomplish our mission today!