Operation Freedom Dogs  Issue # 1

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Reconnecting Veterans

&

Rescuing Dogs

Veteran Dave and Foxtrot

Our Story

At Operation Freedom Dogs (OFD), we believe our country owes military veterans a debt of gratitude. While our military veterans have been brave, many have returned home with physical and emotional injuries that have made it very difficult to transition back to civilian life.

Our goal is to help heal the physical and emotional wounds of military veterans with Combat PTSD by pairing them with a shelter animal that is specially selected to match his or her personality. These dog teams will complete a six month training that will certify them as a service dog team. This training not only produces service dog that will meet the specific needs of each veteran; it equips the veterans with the training skills to maintain a successful working service dog team. The dogs are FREE to the veteran.

Needy shelter animals receive a second chance at life while giving our returning service member a chance at health and happiness. The bond of friendship formed between human and animal has the power to ease the suffering of our troops when returning from the battlefields.

Our First Class

OFD

Executive

Team

Adam Keith – Co-Founder

Matt Weitz – Co-Founder/Mentor

Dave Childress – Mentor/Community Outreach

Pete Moore – Chief of Staff

Susan Millican – Operations Director

Vanessa Campbell - Admissions

Kelly Evans – K9 Coordinator

Julie Jones-Thornton – Training Director

Sue Coulliette – Volunteer Coordinator

Visit our website at

operationfreedomdogs.org

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Saying Thank You


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In memory of a fallen sailor

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These are exciting times for OFD as we seek to step into the light to reach struggling combat veterans with PTSD.  2018 is scheduled to be a scale up year so we can support the demand that will begin to put on us.  We need your help!  Lots to do for lots of struggling warriors in the southeast region of our country!

For information about our program or help with your application call or email Dave Childress at:

(706) 944-3699

dave@operationfreedomdogs.org

 

To volunteer contact Sue Coulliette at:

sue@operationfreedomdogs.org

Group #2 Begins

We have three qualified veterans who have fully completed the enrollment process and have been welcomed to OFD!!!    This group also consists of our first 2 female veterans to go through the training program. 

The coming weeks:

The first 2 weeks (to softly acclimate them to the new environment) - we will do introductions and go over expectations and what is to come throughout the 5 to 6 month program.  We will also be covering dog health and how to care for them.  We will introduce the rescued dogs to the veterans to determine how we will match them up.

Only designated personnel will be allowed in the building during training in order to protect the "learning environment" for sake of the veterans

Two mentor leaders, Dave Childress & Matt Weitz, are joining each week to observe, and assist the new veterans.  This will help put them at ease and help accountability to their commitment. The mentors, along with Susan & Adam, will be led by Head Mentor Pete Moore.

Mentors assessment forms are completed each week to track the veterans well being and commitment.

Each member of the class (including mentors) will be using a Fitbit and be linked to a Fitbit group. Data collected will be sleep progression, heart rate during training and throughout the week, and general exercise. This will be key data to help form future changes to the class, as well as, to substantiate our work.

Week 3 - Veterans begin actual training with dogs and will take their dog home for the first time.  Although, OFD will retain ownership of the K9 until graduation from the program.  

There will be several benchmarks throughout the training: CGC (AKC Canine Good Citizen) tests, CGCA, CGCU, and the Public Access Test.  The final test to graduate comes after the Public Access Test is passed. The  veterans will teach their dog specific tasks to help mediate the veteran’s specific needs.. Skills such as: alerting the veteran when anxiety levels begin to rise; waking the veteran from nightmares, creating space for the veteran in crowded rooms, etc.   

After graduation, each veteran will be encouraged to stay involved to mentor and help in other roles.  They will also do three and six month "check-ins" to ensure the teams maintain their training.

Each graduate must return once yearly for recertification. They will be retaking the Public Access Test.  This will be how we regulate an Active or Expired Service Dog registration number and ID which we will also be keeping on file.

OFD has created numerous processes to continue to care for these warriors.  LOTS of time and discussion goes into how we do what we do. 

Our efforts are top notch as is our integrity of how we carry out this mission; so, being accountable for dollars and pennies is always an important part.  Selfless people donate hard earned money to make this happen, so we are not only accountable to our wounded warriors but our donors as well.

These are exciting times for OFD as we seek to step into the light to reach struggling combat veterans with PTSD.  2018 is scheduled to be a scale up year so we can support the demand.  We need your help!  We are always looking for professionals who can add to our efforts. Lots to do for lots of struggling warriors in the southeast region of our country!