What does “Warriors Helping Warriors” mean?
You may have heard our motto “Warriors Helping Warriors®,” but do you know why we say it, what it means, and how it relates to our mission?
At Paws for Purple Hearts we are dedicated to improving the lives of America’s Warriors facing mobility challenges and trauma-related conditions, but our mission goes beyond placing service dogs with our wounded Warriors.
The motto, “Warriors Helping Warriors®” summarizes our dedication to providing opportunities for Veterans and Service members to help prepare lifelong service companions for their comrades in need. Through PPH’s innovative therapeutic programs, America’s wounded heroes get first-hand experience working with, handling, caring for and training service dogs as a part of their mental health treatment plan, benefitting both themselves and their fellow Warriors.
So, what is this unique therapy program and how does it work?
Canine-Assisted Warrior Therapy
Canine-Assisted Warrior Therapy® (CAWT) is an innovative form of therapy in which we teach Warriors with PTSD or TBI to train, handle, care for, etc. service-dogs-in-training under the guidance of professional PPH Instructors. Eventually, these service dogs will be placed with Veterans facing mobility and/or trauma related injuries, hence our motto “Warriors Helping Warriors®.” A key factor in the success of this therapy is the involvement of the Warriors’ mental health treatment provider in facilitating, documenting and connecting each session to the Warriors therapeutic goals.
CAWT is offered at our partner locations such as Veterans Affairs or Department of Defense sites, and at our own PPH training centers. Each session begins with grooming where the Warrior and dog-in-training spend time bonding and building a relationship. Taking time to pet and connect with these dogs is essential and promotes trust within the Warrior/dog pair. PPH Instructors then present, demonstrate, and lead in-depth discussions about the training methods used to raise successful service dogs. As Warriors take part in training, they learn once again how to connect with others, both dogs and humans. Over time this program helps Warriors to regain trust in others, rebuild relationships, and regain their sense of purpose.
Through CAWT and/or working with a well-trained service dog, Warriors will receive a non-judgmental, unbiased way to communicate with a living being that gives positive feedback in real time. While they may feel judged or resistant to therapists or peers, they will never receive judgment from a service dog.
Train Service Dogs, Heal Your Heart and Mind
PPH is the pioneer of this type of therapy that is now becoming more and more accepted in government agencies. Since 2016 alone, PPH has participated in 7,332 hours of CAWT across our five locations, transforming how hundreds of Warriors with PTSD and TBI get symptom relief.
If you’re a Warrior facing trauma and interested in taking part in this program, please visit our website to find a program near you.
“Using the dogs in therapy provides an additional outlet for Veterans that another human being can’t provide. I am amazed everyday by the gains my clients make and how fast they make them when working with canines.” – Matt Decker, LCSW, Paws for Purple Hearts Clinical Director.
PPH is looking to expand where we offer this unique therapy program. From working with active duty National Guardsmen to veteran trauma recovery centers, this program can provide a positive impact. For mental health providers looking to start a Canine-Assisted Warrior TherapyⓇ program, contact us at 707-238-5110 or send us an email.
Donation Dollars at Work
Paws for Purple Hearts currently has five locations across the United States providing free CAWT programs to qualified Veterans and Service members. Your donation enables Warriors to heal as they help others, all with the goal of raising top-tier service dogs for Veterans and active duty Service Members with mobility limitations and trauma. With your donation, we can continue offering this free service and improve the lives of our nation’s Warriors. Consider making a gift today.