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What Our Warriors Mean to Us

 In General, PPH Blog, Volunteers

At Paws for Purple Hearts, Veterans are always on our minds. So with the start of a new year, we wanted to hear from some of our longest-standing employees to find out why they choose to work for an organization with such a focus on helping our Warriors live the best lives they can.

Heather Martin has been with PPH since 2015 and opened our facility in Ruther Glen, VA in August of that year. She manages dog health/wellness and trains our Service Dogs. Martin says she chose to work for PPH out of a number of other Service Dog organizations because her dad and both grandfathers served in the military. “It was important to me to give back to those who have given so much. What better way than combining my love for dogs with helping our Warriors?” says Martin. This is a sentiment shared amongst many of the people who work with and volunteer for our organization.

Shinya Kawasaki is the PPH Dog Program Director and has been with the organization since 2017. He says he has always wanted to help people by working with dogs. Lately, he’s been helping the Bay Area program and he has had more opportunities to work with participants in-person than in previous years. Kawasaki says that the experience of working with Warriors has been providing him with more motivation to improve our programs and help more Warriors through our dogs.

There are other organizations across the country that train Service Dogs to help our Veterans in a similar way, but there are a couple things that make PPH different. Tamara Bell has been with PPH for 5 years and is a Senior Program Instructor working at our site in San Diego, CA. “The biggest difference is that our primary goal isn’t to place dogs with Veterans, but to work with Warriors in therapy and show the different ways that dogs can affect them, especially if they suffer from PTSD, TBI or mobility challenges as a result of their time serving our country,” says Bell. Paws for Purple Hearts is the first program of its kind to offer Canine Assisted Warrior Therapy to Warriors. These sessions allow Warriors suffering from trauma-related conditions, like PTSD or TBI, to participate in free guided training sessions where they assist PPH Program Instructors in training service dogs as an alternative form of therapy.

Delta giving kisses to a Warrior.
Delta giving kisses to a Warrior.

Casey Koslosky is National Client Manager for PPH and has been with our organization since 2019. She has the unique and challenging job of matching Warriors with the Service Dog that will best fit their needs and help with their daily challenges. “I work with our Warriors from the time they decide to apply for a dog, while they are on the waitlist, during team training, and throughout their working partnership with their dog. I work with them through every stage of the process,” says Koslosky. She continues by saying her favorite part of her job is the 3-month post-placement check-in. “At that time, you can see that the partnership has really solidified and that both the dog and the Warrior know each other so well. They work effortlessly together.” There are so many different ways that our team members get to be involved with our Warriors and their journey to finding the Service Dog that’s meant for them. These are just some of the ways and reasons why working with our Veterans and Active-Duty Service Members means so much to us and why we all want our mission to grow and succeed.

If you would like to help support our mission to improve the lives of America’s Warriors facing mobility challenges and trauma-related conditions such as PTSD and TBI, you can donate to our organization or find out ways that you can become one of our invaluable volunteers.

Looking to help our cause? We couldn’t do what we do without our supporters! Please consider helping us spread the word about our mission to your community. Your support allows us to continue to fulfill our mission in helping Veterans and Active Duty Service Members. By simply helping us get the word out there, you are helping us to continue to fulfill our mission. Please also consider a monetary donation or donating from our Amazon Wishlist to help our cause.

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